It’s far from hidden that cases of COVID-19, or the coronavirus, are increasing every day. The virus originated in China and has infected over 100,000 people. Over 3000 have died worldwide, however, most of those also had underlying illnesses. The virus is impacting several walks of life, mainly travel to other countries. But the coronavirus has also had a massive impact on sports across the world.
Many countries have restricted freedom of movement because of the virus. As a result, they’ve canceled or postponed international events. So today, we’re going to take a look at how the coronavirus has and could impact sports in different ways. From the threat to the Olympics to the effect on individual athletes, it’s a bit of a nightmare. Check out the list below.
20. NFL Draft
The NFL hasn’t been as affected by the coronavirus as much as other sports because the season hasn’t started yet. But the league is still keeping a close eye on what’s going on around the world. There were fears that this could affect the upcoming draft in Las Vegas this April, but that doesn’t seem likely right now.
Although Nevada hasn’t had a coronavirus outbreak at the time of writing, officials say it’s merely a matter of time. The draft will attract 750,000 people over the course of three days. Despite this, the event will go on as planned. However, international scouting events could be affected by the pandemic.
Snooker players won’t be happy to hear the news about the China Open. Set to take place from March 30 to April 5, organizers have postponed the event. When Ding Jenhui won the 2005 tournament, it stimulated massive interest in the sport in China. That’s why the Chinese Open is the second most lucrative pool competition in the world.
It offers over $1.25 million in total prize money. The winner walks away with a check of $280,000. Only the World Championship’s first prize of $550,000 is worth more than this. However, the event, scheduled to go down in Beijing, is now in limbo.
Amateur athletes are exceptionally vulnerable in times of crisis like this. They rely heavily on endorsements from their sponsors. If they can’t compete then they may not be able to meet the terms of their deals. This has a massive implication on their ability to compete in the future.
It’s also highly problematic for competition organizers. Chinese sports competitions have lost out on $50 million in sponsorship fees. The cost of canceled events is a huge one and could affect their ability to host tournaments in the future. That’s bad for athletes and the fans.
The coronavirus is one of the biggest threats to the current world order as we know it. But you might not think that from the attitude of some athletes whose responses to the virus have been heavily criticized. Joanna Jedrzejzcyk shared a picture of her facing off with UFC rival Weili Zhang in a gas mask.
Meanwhile, the FA cited Tottenham Hotspur star Delle Ali after a Snapchat video where he zoomed in on an Asian man and then panned to a bottle of antiseptic. Spurs forced him to issue an apology on Chinese social media platform Weibo. He will also face disciplinary action.
Manchester United was desperate to sign a forward in January’s transfer window. After a longterm injury to their star striker Marcus Rashford, they were in dire straits. This led them to the shock loan signing of Odion Ighalo from Shanghai Shenhua. You can see where we’re going with this.
United told Ighalo to stay away from the training ground for two weeks. He trained at the National Taekwondo Center during the incubation period. Since then, Ighalo has both played and scored for United. But it shows how the coronavirus can affect sports in different ways.
Every year, more than 40,000 people take part in the London Marathon. Now the race is in jeopardy after the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Scheduled for April 26, concerns are mounting about its viability. In short, officials will make a decision closer to the event.
London might take inspiration from the Tokyo Marathon. Instead of 38,000 taking part, the organizers only allowed 176 elite athletes and 30 wheelchair athletes to compete in the race, which took place on March 1. Let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that and everything calms down.
Soccer stadiums hold thousands of people, so it stands to reason the likes of Japan and Korea don’t want them open right now. The two nations have canceled domestic league games because of the virus. Anything that can reduce the chances of people getting sick is worth trying.
Meanwhile, Thailand will host China’s home World Cup qualifiers against Guam and the Maldives. Furthermore, the Asian Champion’s League has postponed all games involving Chinese clubs until April. Good luck keeping up with this calendar. It’s an organizer’s nightmare.
Potential Olympians don’t know if the Games are going to go ahead as planned. But they’ve got another major problem to contend with first that might not be so easy. Asian countries are rescheduling and postponing tournaments in many different sports. To sum up, it’s a logistical nightmare.
Everything from athletics to baseball has been adversely affected. Countries like China and South Korea are currently unable to host sports events because of the pandemic. Others, like Kazakhstan, have canceled events to avoid the disease spreading to their countries.
It’s not just a few athletes who have made some poor choices when dealing with the coronavirus. German Bundesliga club RB Leipzig was guilty of an atrocious ‘error’ on Monday 1 March. The German soccer team created a PR nightmare for itself when they made a ridiculous decision.
Their security team decided to eject 20 Japanese fans from their stadium. Of course, their decision had no merit behind it and just attracted a lot of heat. Leipzig has since apologized to the fans. They also promised them a five-star matchday experience if they ever want to come back.
ONE is Asia’s premier MMA promotion. It’s hugely active with events regularly taking place in the likes of Singapore, Japan, and China. However, because of the coronavirus, they had to make the decision to hold an event behind closed doors. In short, it was for both fan and athlete safety.
Their event on the 29th of February in the Singapore Indoor Arena took place without any fans. This made for an extremely strange atmosphere for fighters. But better safe than sorry. In the main event, Stamp Fairtex lost her atomweight kickboxing title to America’s Janet Todd.
The Engadin Ski Marathon is an annual cross-country ski that takes place in Graubunded, Switzerland. The second biggest of its kind in the world, a fixture on the season calendar since its creation in 1969. A freestyle race, there’s no license required to sign up, so anybody over the age of 16 is eligible.
But even this competition has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus. Organizers made the decision to cancel this year’s installment. If you think it’s not a big deal because it’s just skiing, well, you might be surprised. The tournament had registered 14,000 participants. That’s a lot of damage to the local economy.
They’re one of the most successful soccer teams in the world. But it’s been a remarkable 30 years since Liverpool last got their hands on the league title. It looks like they’re finally going to break their duck after an agonizing wait. However, the coronavirus could now be a barrier to their success and celebrations.
Fears that the league will be postponed have been alleviated by the FA. However, depending on how extreme the outbreak gets, restrictions on fans may be put in place. This means Liverpool may finally win the league again, but with nobody there to see them do it.
This has turned into a nightmare season for organizers of Italy’s Serie A. The country’s top soccer league has seen more than 10 games suspended because of the coronavirus. This includes a match with massive implications for the title between Juventus and Inter Milan.
The biggest problem is the fixture pileup. With Euro 2020 set to take place this summer, Serie A is running out of time to fit in the suspended games. If it continues they will either have to start playing games behind closed doors or simply cancel this year’s competition.
A Formula 1 Grand Prix brings a lot of prestige to its host city and it’s a major blow if you have to cancel it. But unfortunately, Shanghai found themselves in that situation. Originally scheduled for April 19, organizers have since postponed the race. In sum, it’s causing major disruption.
But it’s not the only Formula 1 Grand Prix at risk. Vietnam’s first race in Hanoi is also in danger because of the outbreak. However, authorities remain confident that it will go ahead. Meanwhile, Australian Grand Prix organizers are adamant that their March 5 race is still on.
Zhang is the UFC women’s strawweight champion. She’ll fight Polish former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 on March 7 in Las Vegas, Nevada. But the Chinese fighter had an absolute nightmare trying to get into the United States. First of all, she had to flee from Beijing. Authorities planned on shutting the city down so this was a major panic for her.
Then she went to Thailand to continue her training. However, she had to pack up again and move to Abu Dhabi after an outbreak in Bangkok. Finally, she made it to the United States. Zhang says that a phone call from her mother made her realize how lucky she is to have her freedom to leave.
The worst affected country in Europe, Italian sports are in big trouble and rugby is no exception. Their biggest club teams Treviso and Bennetton have suspended their games against British sides. But by far the biggest rugby game impacted so far was Ireland vs. Italy.
Ireland’s Minister for Health decided to suspend the Six Nations’ international because of fears of Italian fans further spreading the disease. With thousands of Italian fans expected to travel to Dublin, Irish authorities decided they couldn’t risk an uncontrolled spread of the virus.
It’s very common for NBA players to high-five and shake hands with fans. In fact, because of the contained nature of basketball arenas, it’s easier to get up close and personal with your team. But the coronavirus is having an effect on even this. The NBA has advised players to avoid giving high-fives and autographs.
Players have already started responding to this. The New York Knicks’ Bobby Portis fist-bumped fans instead of giving them high-fives. Meanwhile, Portland’s CJ McCollum has announced he’s taking a break from signing autographs. In sum, it’s something you expect a lot of players will follow quickly.
Marc Lasry, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks, believes that sporting events in the US will have to ban fans if the coronavirus outbreak worsens. The NBA has already advised players about the importance of handwashing. However, Lasry fears that stadiums will have to shut their doors to fans.
He also believes that baseball is more at risk than basketball simply because their stadiums can hold more supporters. The MLB has set up a coronavirus task force to try and reduce the impact on the league and the season. Let’s hope it works out.
One of the biggest sports competitions to be at risk from the Coronavirus is Euro 2020, Europe’s biggest international soccer competition. It’s slated to see 24 nations battle it out to be champions of the continent. However, UEFA’s greed makes it more likely that there will be coronavirus-related problems.
For the first time, a single nation won’t host the tournament. Instead, the entire continent will share individual games across 12 countries. So thousands of people will be traveling around Europe unchecked. Where will the first game of the tournament take place? You guessed it: Italy.
Nobody knows yet what the effect will be on the 2020 Olympics in Japan. The biggest sports event on the planet, it could cost Japan $26 billion. Organizers expected the event to attract an estimated 10 million people to Japan. Now the entire tournament is at risk. It’s a nightmare for the Olympic committee.
The organizing committee remains bullish that the Games will go ahead as scheduled. But of course, there will be doubts while the virus continues to spread. Japan’s Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto has said that Japan’s contract with the IOC allows for the rescheduling of the tournament.