Coronavirus is Having a Wide-Reaching Impact on the Sports World

William Pitts
Austrian soccer team SK Rapid Wien spare no precautions
Austrian soccer team SK Rapid Wien spare no precautions / Johann Schwarz/Getty Images
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As countries around the world rush to contain the spread of the coronavirus, all patterns of society have seen disruption, including the sports world. The potential scale of the virus outbreak has led to cancellations, postponements, and matches played before empty crowds. Though the International Olympic Committee has stood firm on holding the 2020 Olympic Games as scheduled, not all event organizers have been as steadfast, and still others may be at risk.

Possible effects on Euro 2020

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the UEFA European Championship, the 2020 edition will be held in 12 different countries across Europe. Unfortunately, with a superbug on the loose wreaking havoc on worldwide travel, UEFA could not have picked a worse year to host such a unique event.

The tournament is scheduled to kick off on June 12th in Rome. Unfortunately, Italy is among the hardest-hit countries in Europe by the coronavirus. UEFA president Michele Uva made a vague statement to Italian broadcaster RAI that opened up the possibility that the organization could take drastic measures if things get worse.

“We are monitoring country by country, and football must follow the orders of the individual countries. The sporting path will only be closed if the situation gets worse.”

Possible effects on Formula One

It stands to reason that one of the only truly global sports would be impacted by a global outbreak.

The Chinese Grand Prix, once scheduled for April 19th in Shanghai, has already been postponed to an unknown later date. However, despite fears from their respective countries of the disease spreading to their shores, the season-opening Australian Grand Prix is still set to go ahead on March 15th, and the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix is scheduled for April 5th.

The all-electric Formula E series has canceled its own Chinese race, which would have been held March 21 in the island city of Sanya.

Serie A matches played behind closed doors

Italy is the first European country to face a major coronavirus outbreak, and its soccer league has been forced to take serious measures. Last weekend, four matches were postponed, all of which were to be played in the northern part of the country.

This weekend, five matches -- including a major encounter between Juventus and Inter Milan -- will be played to empty arenas. A Europa League match at Milan's San Siro stadium between Inter Milan and Ludogorets will also be played behind closed doors. It is unknown when the cancelled matches from last weekend will be rescheduled.

Of course, the virus' effects on East Asian soccer have been far more dramatic. The professional leagues of China, Japan, and South Korea have postponed all matches indefinitely, and China's 2022 World Cup qualifying matches have been moved to Thailand.

FIS Alpine Ski World Cup event canceled

Earlier this month, the city of Yanqing was set to host China's first FIS Alpine Ski World Cup event, which would open the 2020 season and serve as the first Test Event for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. Both events, the men's downhill and super G, have been cancelled.

“Although the risk level in Yanqing is low, the health and welfare of the athletes and all participants must take priority. It is also imperative that athletes can focus on their performance and particularly on the completely new and very challenging course," FIS president Gian Franco Kasper said.

World Athletics Indoor Championships moved to 2021

One month ago, World Athletics (the organization formerly known as the International Amateur Athletic Federation) announced that the World Athletics Indoor Championships, set to take place in Nanjing, China late this March, would be pushed back a full year to March 2021 due to concerns regarding the virus.

"We have considered the possibility of relocating the event to another country and would like to thank the cities that have volunteered to host the championships," a press release stated. "However, given concerns still exist regarding the spread of the virus outside China, we have decided not to go with this option, as it may lead to further postponement at a later date."

Indoor athletic competitions typically take place in the late winter to early spring months, putting the Indoor Championships at the furthest end of the 2020 indoor athletics calendar even before the postponement.

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