COVID-19 vs. Sports

Published On March 3, 2020 | By Sean Marco | News, Sports
Sean Marco

As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, professional sports league around the world are taking action to protect athletes and fans.

Five games in Italy’s top tier soccer league have already been postponed following the 50 per cent increase in confirmed cases after just one day.

Italy (at publication time) has 2,502 confirmed cases of the Coronavirus with a total of 79 deaths in the country.

San Siro Stadium in Milan. (Emilio Andreoli, UEFA)

The most anticipated Serie A game that was postponed was the Juventus vs. Inter Milan, scheduled for Saturday but the rival matchup will now be played on May 13, along with Lazio vs. Bologna, Napoli vs. Torino, Lecce vs. Atalanta, and Cagliari vs. Roma.

“The decision was down to me, but the clubs involved were contracted by telephone, so we know everyone’s position, which were difficult to reconcile,” Lega Serie A President Paolo Dal Pino at a news conference.

Despite the outbreak in Europe, La Liga’s “El Clásico” that was played on Sunday in Madrid, was not cancelled.

Javier Tebas, La Liga president told reporters there was no possibility of the game being cancelled because the situation has not been a concern in their city.

“We have a plan in place for different cities regarding whether we can play behind closed doors or not,” he said.

With the Champions and Europa League playoff matches set to start later this month, the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) has admitted it will be tough to reschedule games.

“We met with the European Leagues to create a coordination group to face the situation and find the best possible solutions,” said Theodore Theodoridis, UEFA General Security at a news conference.

The International Ice Hockey Federation has already cancelled six tournaments throughout Europe to avoid the outbreak but the NHL has yet to take action.

The NHL and NBA are in their regular seasons and the MLB is currently in spring training, making them the only major leagues currently active during the outbreak.

All three leagues have contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and various health organizations about precautions or possible steps to prevent the spread.

Utah Jazz Forward Bojan Bogdanovic high-fives fans. (Eric Christian Smith, AP Photo)

The NBA is the only one that has taken defence against the spread, releasing a memo urging players to give fans fist bumps instead of high-fives and avoid items handed to them by fans including pens, markers, balls, and jerseys.

Many soccer leagues and teams have considered playing empty stadium games, where the game will go as scheduled but with no fans in the stands.

With the NCAA March Madness tournament two weeks away, officials have considered playing both the men’s and women’s tournaments without crowds in the arena.

The National College Player Association has already cancelled any events where athletes would be in contact with large crowds to avoid the spread to teams.

Bobby Reagan, Barstool Sports writer said “Just the biggest event of the year being played infront of absolutely no one.”

Citizens posing in front of the Olympic sign in Tokyo. (Athit Perawongmetha, Reuters)

With the world traveling to Tokyo in July, the Olympics have a real possibility of being postponed until the end of the year but cannot go into next year.

According to Seiko Hashimoto, a Japanese politician and former speed skater and track cycling sprinter, Tokyo’s contract with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) “calls for the games to be held within 2020.”

Although there are talks of the games being postponed, the IOC President Thomas Bach is encouraging athletes to stay ready for July.

With some of the biggest sporting events rapidly approaching, fans across all sports are anxious to see how the Coronavirus will affect their favourite sport.

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