Olympics, Six Nations and Euro 2020: Coronavirus threatens sports events

Olympics and Paralympics

The IOC president, Thomas Bach, remains insistent that the 2020 Games will go ahead as planned, and athletes should plan for Tokyo “with great confidence” . Another IOC member, Dick Pound, has previously said a final decision could be made as late as the end of May, with cancellation, rather than postponement or relocation, the most likely outcome. The events start on 24 July and 25 August respectively. The athletics world indoor championships, scheduled to take place in China next month, are already off.

Six Nations

England’s trip to Rome on 14 March to face Italy has been called off, with Ireland’s men’s and women’s matches against Italy in Dublin already postponed. There are fears that the tournament may not be completed for the first time since 1972. The foot and mouth disease outbreak in 2001 led to one match being postponed until September and two moved to October. The Singapore and Hong Kong legs of the World Rugby Sevens have been put back to October.

Euro 2020

The Europe-wide, travel-heavy Uefa showpiece is due to take place at 12 venues, starting in Rome on 12 June. The semi-finals and final will be at Wembley. Uefa say the situation is “under constant scrutiny … we are monitoring it country by country, and football will follow orders of the individual countries”. The Uefa president, Aleksander Ceferin, remains hopeful the tournament will be unaffected. England’s warm-up against Italy is scheduled for Wembley on 27 March. The FA is following developments.

Premier League and domestic football

There is widespread disruption already, with multiple Serie A games postponed and the league now being played behind closed doors until 3 April. The Swiss league, Japan’s J-League, South Korea’s K-League and China’s Super League are all on hold, with pre-season International Champions Cup fixtures set for Asia also called off.

In England, clubs have told players not to shake hands – West Ham’s David Moyes says: “It’s fist bumps only” – while there is speculation that the season could be curtailed on government advice. In those circumstances, there would be no guarantee Liverpool would be named Premier League champions – and the bottom three could escape relegation.

Formula One

Following the postponement of the Chinese Grand Prix, the focus is now on forthcoming races in Australia, Bahrain and Vietnam. Race organisers have insisted that the season’s curtain-raiser in Melbourne will go ahead on 15 March, but new restrictions in Australia on travellers on Italy mean the Australian GP is still uncertain. Ferrari have restricted access to their factory in Maranello, 87 miles from the Italian outbreak in Codogno.


Cheltenham starts on 10 March, the Grand National meeting starts on 2 April. Cheltenham organisers say it is, for now, still “full steam ahead”.


The ECB insists England’s two-Test tour of Sri Lanka in March will happen. “It is not considered a high-risk country for further virus spread.” A four-team women’s tournament in Thailand, also featuring Ireland, Zimbabwe and the Netherlands, has been cancelled.

Among other events

Golf The Masters will begin on 9 April in Augusta, with officials confirming the event is still scheduled to go ahead as planned. Elsewhere, multiple tournaments have been cancelled or moved. The Mena Tour, covering the Middle East and North Africa, has put back all events until at least September.

Cycling Following the UAE Tour’s cancellation, the Giro d’Italia in May is among other events now in doubt. Upcoming one-day classic races in Italy, including Milan-San Remo, appear certain to be called off.

A spectator wears a protective face mask at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis ATP Championships in Dubai

A spectator wears a protective face mask at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis ATP Championships in Dubai. Photograph: Ali Haider/EPA

Tennis WTA events in China are off or under review; the final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, was cancelled.

Badminton The German Open, Vietnam Open and Polish Open have all been called off.

Boxing Olympic qualifiers due to be staged in Wuhan will now take place in Amman, Jordan, next month.

Snooker The China Open ranking event in Beijing, due to start on 30 March, has been called off.

Darts The PDC has said it currently has no plans to cancel any events, but has told players to avoid shaking hands with their opponents, and may restrict them from giving autographs to fans.

MotoGP The first two races of the season, in Qatar and Thailand, have been cancelled. Qatar has imposed travel restrictions on passengers arriving from Italy, where several riders and some teams are based.

Speed skating The world short track championships, scheduled to take place in Seoul in March, have been called off.

Triathlon The opening event of the World Series in Abu Dhabi has been postponed, but may still be rearranged.

London marathon Organisers are confident the event will go ahead as planned on 26 April but are “monitoring closely the spread … We are noting government advice.”

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