Top-flight football in England, Spain and Italy will resume this month following the lead of the German Bundesliga which played a round of matches for the second weekend after play was suspended in Europe in mid-March.
Here is our update on further cancellations, postponements, rescheduling and implications for the future of various sports as the world looks to see some light through the shadow cast by Covid-19 which has affected the staging of every major event.
In England. The Premier League will resume on 17 June and said the aim was for the remaining games to be played on the usual home and away basis but that they have a contingency plan for neutral venues. The initial suggestion from the British Government had been for the closed-door matches to be played at neutral venues but some clubs have expressed opposition to that idea — views that have been put to the government by the league. When play was suspended runaway leaders Liverpool were 25 points ahead of defending champions Manchester City with a game in hand. Meanwhile, the FA Cup final will be played on 1 August with the quarter-finals held over the weekend of 27-28 June and the semi-finals earmarked for the weekend of 18-19 July. Sky Sports will make 25 games available ‘free to air’ – including Everton v Liverpool on the first full weekend. Here’s the full breakdown of the restart: dttps://www.skysports.com/football/news/11065/11996463/premier-league-restart-fixtures-kick-off-times-tv-schedule-and-dates In Scotland, Celtic were confirmed as Scottish champions for the ninth season in a row and Hearts have been relegated after the SPFL ended the season. The decision was taken at a board meeting last month after the 12 clubs agreed that completing the campaign was unfeasible. Average points per game played has been used to determine final placings. Celtic were leading arch rivals Rangers by 13 points.
In Germany, Polish striker Robert Lewandowski scored twice as defending champions Bayern Munich beat Fortuna Dusseldorf 5-0 on Saturday to stay seven points clear of Borussia Dortmund who were equally impressive in a 6-1 away victory over bottom-placed Paderborn. Bayern were 3-0 up by half-time, Benjamin Pavard and Lewandowski scoring after Mathias Jorgensen’s own goal opened the scoring. Lewandowski’s 43rd goal in all competitions this campaign made it 4-0 in a crushing win. Teenager Alphonso Davies added the fifth with a superb individual effort. Meanwhile, England international teenagerJ Jadon Sancho scored the first hat-trick of his career in Borussia Dortmund’s thrashing of Paderborn on Sunday.
In Spain, La Liga will resume on 11 June when Real Betis face Sevilla, and next season will start on 12 September. Organisers want to finish the season on the weekend of 18-19 July depending on the evolution of Covid-19. The Spanish government’s department for sport said agreements had been reached with La Liga and the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF). Football was suspended on 12 March with defending champions Barcelona two points ahead of arch rivals Real Madrid but Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said the league can resume from 8 June. La Liga president Javier Tebas said: “The important thing will be when the season finishes, although we’ll only be able to congratulate ourselves when we start the following season.”
In Italy, Serie A will return on 20 June, the country’s sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora confirmed last Thursday. Serie A was suspended on 9 March, with champions Juventus leading the table by a point with 12 rounds of matches remaining. Players returned to individual training earlier in May before group sessions restarted last week. On 20 May the Italian football federation (FIGC) set a 20 August deadline for finishing the 2019-20 season. The FIGC also said it intended for the top three divisions to be played to a conclusion and that if any of them should restart and then stop again, a shorter alternative of a play-off would have to be devised.
In France, the courts rejected appeals by Lyon, Amiens and Toulouse over the decision of the French football league (LFP) to end its season The season was called off by the government with defending champions Paris Saint Germain awarded the Ligue 1 title ahead of Marseille. Lyon had said they would try to claim damages after being denied a European spot. Amiens and Toulouse were relegated.
In Portugal, Primeira Liga will resume this Wednesday (3 June), with Portimonense against Gil Vicente and Famalicao hosting leaders Porto who lead rivals Benfica by a point with 10 rounds left. In Belgium, Club Bruges have been declared Belgian champions after the country’s Pro League confirmed last month’s decision to bring the season to a premature halt. They had an unassailable 15-point lead over Gent with one match left when the season was suspended.
On the European stage, UEFA President Aleksander Cerefin said it had a concrete plan for finishing the European season in August with the final stages of the Champions League and Europa League likely to be played in that month. The quarter-finals and semi-finals are expected to be played over two legs. Euro 2020, Europe’s flagship tournament, has already been postponed and would be held from 11 June to 11 July, 2021.
Austria’s government has approved hosting Formula One’s season-opening races in July, according to media reports. The races, scheduled for 5 and 12 July, will take place behind closed doors at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. The 2020 season was due to start in Australia in March, but the coronavirus pandemic forced the postponement of that race and a further nine more including the showcase Monaco Grand Prix. If the Austria races run successfully, the F1 season could continue on 19 July in Budapest, Hungary. Silverstone has agreed a deal for two Grands Prix to be held at the British track in August. F1 bosses are still putting together a revised calendar for this season. Among those cancelled is the Dutch Grand Prix, which was returning to the Formula One calendar for the first time since 1985. The race was due to be held on 3 May but was initially postponed. “We were completely ready for this race and we still are,” said Dutch Grand Prix sports director Jan Lammers. “We ask everyone to be patient. I had to look forward to it for 35 years, so I can wait another year.”
The 2020 MotoGP British Grand Prix, due to take place from 28-30 August at Silverstone, has been cancelled Five MotoGP races have now been cancelled while others have been postponed, with the season currently set to start in Spain on 19 July. Silverstone managing director Stuart Pringle said logistical restrictions meant cancellation was the “safest and only decision” organisers could make.The MotoGP, motorcycling’s premier competition, is scheduled to start its season after months of delay with two races on consecutive weekends in July at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain. The first 11 races in the 2020 season have been affected across Europe, Asia and Australia. In other motor sports, the 2020 Isle of Man Classic TT and Manx Grand Prix, scheduled from 22 August to 4 September, have been cancelled along with the 2020 North West 200 and Isle of Man TT international road races, the 2020 Ulster Grand Prix and the Munster 100, scheduled for June, and the Faugheen 50, scheduled for July. The Le Mans 24 hours race was postponed from 13-14 June to 19-20 September. The Indianapolis 500, one of the world’s biggest single-day sporting events with an estimated crowd topping 350,000, has been postponed until 23 August.
West Indies has agreed in principle to July’s Test tour of England, but players and staff will take a 50 per cent pay cut. The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is expected to announce a revamped summer schedule this week. England’s three-Test series against West Indies is set to start on 8 July. The matches are to be played behind closed doors in a bio-secure environment at Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl and Lancashire’s Old Trafford. The series must first be approved by the UK Government and the West Indies squad would have to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival under current rules. England bowlers have started individual training at seven grounds and batsmen and wicketkeepers are due to return to individual training this week. Of those tournaments cancelled or postponed, The Hundred. the ECB’s new city-based tournament, will now take place next year. The 100-ball competition, involving eight teams in separate men’s and women’s tournaments, was due to begin on 17 July and end on 15 August. If and when the 2020 season does begin, the national governing body has already stated it will focus on delivering men’s and women’s internationals, as well as domestic first-class and limited-overs competitions, in the period between July and the end of September. However, it seems likely the majority of cricket would have to be played behind closed doors The 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) has already been suspended “until further notice”.
World No.1 Novak Djokovic has announced Croatia’s Marin Cilic and Borna Coric as the latest players to join an eight-man tournament to tour the Balkans. Austria’s Dominic Thiem, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov and Germany’s Alexander Zverev – all current or former top-three players – will also take part. The first leg will take place in Djokovic’s hometown of Belgrade on 13 and 14 June. The tournament could be behind closed doors with Serbia’s coronavirus containment measures still banning large-scale gatherings. In the women’s game, Sofia Kenin and Bianca Andreescu will be among 16 women’s players to compete in Charleston next month. American Kenin, who won this year’s Australian Open, and Canada’s Andreescu, the 2019 U.S. Open champion, will take part in the Credit One Bank Invitational, which will be aired on the Tennis Channel and begin on 23 June. It will be held without fans The 16 players will be divided into two teams with Americans Madison Keys and Bethanie Mattek-Sands serving as captains..The ATP Tour and International Tennis Federation (ITF) earlier this month extended their suspensions of professional tennis until 31 July. Meanwhile, Covid-19 has promoted Roger Federer as the first tennis player to top the annual Forbes list of the world’s highest paid athletes, overtaking footballer Lionel Messi. The pandemic triggered salary cuts for soccer stars Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, clearing the way for Federer to rank as the world’s highest-paid athlete for the first time. Federer, 38, moved up four places after earning 86.2million sterling in the past year – about 81million sterling of it in endorsements.
The European Tour season is set to resume in July with a six-week ‘UK Swing’ tournament and will run to December. The British Masters in Newcastle from 22-25 July is the first of six events, two of which will be at Celtic Manor. Later in the year, the Scottish Open is set to run from 8-11 October with the Tour’s flagship PGA Championship event the following week at Wentworth, while other tournaments are to be revealed. The DP World Tour Championship ends the season in Dubai from 10-13 December. The European Tour was suspended on 8 March and the return of tournaments was subject to “stringent safety and testing protocols”. Meanwhile, in the United States, the first four tournaments back since play was suspended on 12 March will be played behind closed doors but will be screened live by NBC in the U.S and on satellite television in the UK. Of the four majors, the 149th British Open Championship, due to take place in July at Royal St George’s in Kent, has been cancelled and 2020’s three other majors, all in the US, have been rescheduled. The Augusta Masters has been put back from April to 12-15 November, while the US PGA Championship is now slated for 6-9 August. The US Open, at Winged Foot, New York, is being moved from June to 17-20 September. The British Open will now be hosted by the same venue in Kent in 2021.In the women’s game, the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) is hoping to get the 2020 season underway with the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational from 15-18 July. The Women’s PGA Championship has been postponed from late June to 8-11 October.
The restart date for the English Gallagher Premiership looks set to be pushed back from late July until August after Gloucester said they did not expect clubs to return to training for another month. That would mean staging the play-off final in October and a clash with plans to play out the postponed Six Nations. The Premiership had been aiming to resume on 27 June and play the season to its conclusion before, after a short break, starting the 2020-21 campaign on time. That will not happen and the end of July is looking less likely, with medical experts recommending players train for at least six weeks before a resumption. That increases the likelihood of a fixture logjam. Along with this year’s postponed Six Nations match against Italy and their autumn fixtures, England could play seven matches, while Champions Cup organisers have targeted October for completing this season’s competition. Rugby at all levels in Europe has been suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic. In Rugby League, the English Rugby Football League and Super League have postponed all fixtures indefinitely pending further review while the game’s premier competition, the National Rugby League (NRL) in Australia, resumed its season last Thursday night behind closed doors.
Four-time champion Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal have all been told they should prepare to lead Team Ineos if this year’s Tour de France goes ahead in late August, Sky Sports reported. Leadership issues have once again come to the fore in the team as the three former Tour winners vie for supremacy. Froome, 35, is desperate for a shot at a record-equalling fifth title following his long comeback from injury, while Colombia’s defending champion Bernal, by far the youngest of the three at 23, has said he does not want to sacrifice himself for others. The Tour de France is due to start in Nice on August 29, with other WorldTour races returning starting with Strade Bianche in Italy on 1 August. It was announced by the UCI last month that the Tour de France will now start on 29 August and end on 20 September, with the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana overlapping during October. Cycling’s three Grand Tour races will be part of a packed schedule across just over three months from 1 August.
Athletics premier competition, the Diamond League, now plans to hold three meetings in August in Monaco, Gateshead and Stockholm followed by September events in Lausanne, Brussels, Paris, Shanghai and possibly Rome or Naples. Meetings in Eugene, Doha and China have been scheduled for October. The shortened calendar and varying training facilities and opportunities for athletes means the points system has also been revised. Athletes will not earn points this season and there will not be a single, 24-discipline final in Zurich as originally planned. Along with the London Diamond League event, Rabat and Zurich have also been cancelled. The cancellations follow those of the 2020 European Athletics Championships in Paris, due to be staged at the Charlety Stadium from 25-30 August and the World Athletics Championships scheduled for 2021 in Eugene, Oregon, which have been moved to the summer of 2022 because of the Olympic Games rescheduling. The World Athletics Indoor Championships to be held in Nanjing in March will now be held from 19-21 March, 2021. The British Athletics Championships, due to take place on 20-21 June, have been rescheduled for 8-9 August. The Paris, Barcelona and Boston marathons have all been called off, the US event for the first time in its 124-year history, while the London Marathon has been postponed till 4 October.
Australian Olympic team medical director David Hughes has warned that next year’s Games in Tokyo “will not be business as usual”. Hughes told a sports conference last week that the assumption must be made that a coronavirus vaccine would not be available in time for the postponed Tokyo 2020. “My advice is, in terms of planning for the Paralympics and Olympics next year in Tokyo, we need to make an assumption that there will not be a vaccine,” he said. “And that means it will not be business as usual and it will be a very different looking Olympics from what has been before.” The coronavirus pandemic forced the rescheduling of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to July 23 to August 8, 2021. They will be followed by the Paralympics from August 24 to September 5.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has informed the Board of Governors the league is looking at a 31 July restart date, according to news reports. Sports channel ESPN reported the NBA’s Board of Governors was expected to approve Silver’s recommendation on a format to restart the season in Florida in a vote this Thursday. The NBA has been in talks to resume the basketball season at Florida’s Disney World Resort. The season was paused on 11 March. It is hoped Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex can be a “single site for games, practices and housing”. Major League Soccer (MLS) plans to restart the season with some sort of tournament by bringing all 26 teams to Orlando, Florida, in early June, allowing them to train for several weeks and then holding a tournament starting around 3 July. Players would effectively be quarantined for about two months. The league play has been suspended since 12 March. The NHL have suspended their seasons and Major League Baseball (MLB) team owners have agreed a plan to start playing in empty stadiums in early July.
Newcastle will be the first British racecourse to host fixtures when racing resumes on Monday. Racing in Britain has been suspended since 17 March because of the coronavirus pandemic. The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) said “the long break is nearly over” and that it was “counting down the hours to the return of racing”. A 10-race fixture is planned for Newcastle’s all-weather track. A maximum of 120 runners are set to line up at Gosforth Park, with all contests limited to 12 starters. The BHA has proposed a total of 18 meetings in the first eight days with flat racing’s first two Classics, the 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas, scheduled to be held at Newmarket on 6 and 7 June..Horse racing is due return to Ireland behind closed doors this month with the Irish 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas to be staged at the Curragh on 12-13 June. The first Irish race since the coronavirus shutdown of world sport will be on the flat at Punchestown on 8 June. The Irish Derby retains its traditional date on 27 June with the Irish Oaks on 18 July. Racing began in France and Germany behind closed doors last month while the United States, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong have continued to stage race meetings behind closed doors in recent weeks.
Snooker will resume in the UK on 1 June with its first tournament since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The Championship League event is to be be staged behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes. All players, staff, and contractors will be tested before entering the venue, and will be kept in isolation until their results are known. Players will require a negative test in order to be eligible for the event. The Marshall Arena has been chosen as a venue because it has on-site accommodation, meaning everyone involved in the tournament – which ends on 11 June – can be contained on the complex. The tournament will involve 64 players, including current world champion Judd Trump. World Championship is likely to be cancelled for a year if the tournament has to be called off for a second time at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre. Originally set to take place in April and May, it has been rescheduled to start on 31 July. The event, which was postponed on 20 March, will run for 17 days and be broadcast in full across BBC TV and online. “I’d rather get it on at the Crucible this year or have nothing,” World Snooker Tour (WST) chairman Hearn told Eurosport. WST has said it will assess “government advice at the time” about the number of spectators allowed inside the Sheffield venue. The 1mln sterling China Open, scheduled to start in Beijing at the end of March, has been cancelled.
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