The Tour de France has been confirmed as starting on 29 August with the other two Grand Tour races – the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana – overlapping in October. Horse racing in France resumed on Monday behind closed doors while the German Bundesliga became the first European major football league to restart its season with the first matches scheduled for this weekend.
Here is our update on further cancellations, postponements and rescheduling as the world looks to see some light through the dark shadow cast by Codiv-19 which has affected the staging of every major sporting event.
In England, three English Premier League sides have raised objections to the proposed restart of the EPL season in neutral venues. Watford. Brighton & Hove Albion and Aston Villa have opposed the Project Restart plan which needs 14 of the 20 clubs to vote in favour at a meeting expected later this month. Meanwhile, a third first-team player from Brighton has tested positive for COVID-19 which could cast doubts on the plans to resume the season. Clubs are due to meet on Monday to further discuss Project Restart which envisages a return to play in June once given the green light from government, with the remaining 92 matches held behind closed doors at neutral venues.The league was suspended on 13 March with Liverpool as runaway leaders, heading defending champions Manchester City by 25 points with a match in hand. In Scotland, all Scottish football beneath the Scottish Premiership was suspended for the season with football authorities having the power to declare the top flight season over if the outstanding 49 fixtures cannot be completed. Celtic are currently leading Rangers by 13 points.
In Germany, the German Bundesliga season will restart on Saturday 16 May. The German Football League said the season would resume under strict health protocols, with no fans allowed in stadiums. However, this proposed resumption could come unstuck with second tier side Dynamo Dresden putting their entire squad and coaching staff into two-week isolation late last week after two players tested positive for coronavirus. Champions Bayern Munich, who are four points clear at the top of the table, travel to Union Berlin on Sunday.
In Spain, La Liga said last week that first and second division teams could start training following a protocol it had agreed with sports and health authorities. Players were being tested for coronavirus as part of the protocols in place for training to resume and already five players have tested positive for coronavirus across the top two divisions. The unnamed players are all asymptomatic and are now in isolation. They will continue to be tested and can only rejoin training when they return two consecutive negative results. Barcelona currently head the La Liga table, two points ahead of arch rivals, Real Madrid.
In Italy, there is still doubt over whether Serie A can restart. Individual team training has begun, with team training possible from 18 May, but the main sticking point is the Italian football federation’s medical protocol — described as “insufficient” by Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora. There are hopes Serie A fixtures could resume between 27 May and 2 June – with an end date for the season of early August. Defending champions Juventus currently head the table, one point ahead of Lazio.
In France, the season has already been called off by the government with defending champions Paris Saint Germain awarded the Ligue 1 title ahead of Marseille. Lyon have said they would claim damages after being denied a European spot. Relegated Amiens and Toulouse have also threatened legal action.
On the international stage, Euro 2020, Europe’s flagship tournament, will now be held from 11 June to July 11, 2021. UEFA had put all club and national team competitions for men and women on hold until further notice. The men’s and women’s Champions League finals and Europa League final originally scheduled for May have been formally postponed. However, UEFA is working to plans that could still see the Champions League final end the 2019-20 season on 29 August.
Formula 1 chairman Chase Carey has admitted that the sport’s owners are preparing for “the remote possibility of no racing in 2020”. He said they discussed with lenders how to handle the loss of income involved in not being able to run a season. But he emphasised: “We are increasingly confident – although there are no guarantees – that we will have a 2020 championship season.” Carey, who was speaking on a conference call with investors after the release of the first-quarter results, said the coronavirus crisis had had “a significant impact on F1 and we are adjusting in numerous ways”. Carey said the goal remained to start the season in Austria on the first weekend in July, and that it was likely this would be followed by a second race at the Red Bull Ring the on 11-12 July. It could be followed by two races at Silverstone, also without spectators. Carey said he believed it would be possible to have a championship of 15-18 races, and that the plan was for a series of European races through August and into September, before heading to Eurasia, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East, finishing on 13 December.
Morotcycling’s premier competition, the MotoGP, has proposed starting its season after months of delay with two races on consecutive weekends in July at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain. It said in a statement last Thursday that the regional government of Andalusia, the city council of Jerez and series promoters Dorna had agreed to make a proposal to the Spanish government. If approved, Jerez would host MotoGP grands prix on 19 and 26 July as well as a round of the world superbike championship on 2 Aug. The season-opening race would be designated the Spanish Grand Prix and the second the Grand Prix of Andalusia. MotoGP did not give details of how they would stage the races but all are expected to be run behind closed doors and with only essential staff. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta said last month he was optimistic of putting on races from July at circuits where they could be held easily without spectators. He expected an average of 1,600 people at closed-door races, with manufacturer teams limited to 40 while independent MotoGP outfits would have to manage with 25. 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 were cancelled last week. This follows cancellation of 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.
World No.1 Rory McIlroy will lead golf’s return after a two-month hiatus in a televised charity match in Florida this week. The Northern Irishman will play with Dustin Johnson against Rickie Fowler and Matthew Woolfe in a US$4million skins game on Sunday 17 May in aid of Covid-19 charities. With the backing of the PGA Tour this will be seen as a first tentative step since the coronavirus lockdown. There has been no professional golf since the Players Championship was abandoned after one round on 12 March. The PGA Tour hope to resume their schedule on 11 June at the Colonial event in Fort Worth, Texas. The first four tournaments back are intended to be played behind closed doors. The event will be played in the absence of spectators 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 International Olympic Committee (IOC) is proceeding on the basis that the Tokyo Olympics will take place in 2021 with no Plan B for deferring the Games again, according to John Coates, head of the IOC’s inspectorate for the Games. “We’re proceeding on the basis that, well, there is no Plan B of deferring the games again or anything like that,” said Coates last week. The International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government postponed the Games in March until July 23 2021 because of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “We’ve got a task force at the IOC, a taskforce in Japan. This is a massive exercise, and we are working through now getting the same venues, the same 43 venues.” Last month, Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori admitted the Olympics could be cancelled if the Covid-19 pandemic continues into next year.
India captain Virat Kholi has said the magical atmosphere would be missing if the currently stalled cricket season resumed in empty stadiums. Staging games without spectators has been suggested as one way to resume professional cricket. “Things will still go on, but I doubt that one will feel that magic happening inside because of the atmosphere that was created,” Kohli said on Star Sports’ Cricket Connected Show. “We will play sports how it is supposed to be played, but those magical moments will be difficult to come by.” India are set to visit Australia for four tests and three one-day internationals later this year, games which are likely to be played in empty stadiums. Of those tournaments cancelled or postponed, The Hundred. the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) 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. The ECB has extended the shutdown on cricket in England and Wales until at least 1 July. 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”.
ATP Tour chief Andrea Gaudenzi is refusing to give up on 2020 season just yet despite the growing possibility of a total wipeout of professional tennis this year due. The tennis season was suspended in early March and the hiatus will continue at least until mid-July with many countries in lockdown. Wimbledon was cancelled and the French Open postponed from its usual May start to September, while the status of the U.S. Open, scheduled to take place in late August, is still unclear. Many people, including 19-times Grand Slam winner Rafa Nadal, have voiced doubts about whether the sport can return in 2020 because players would need to travel around the world to compete in tournaments. “It would be unwise to call it quits now,” Gaudenzi told Reuters. “Nobody knows what will happen, we want to keep an optimistic overview.” A decision is expected in the next week about the European clay-court tournaments and. It seems inevitable all will be cancelled because government restrictions on large-scale gatherings remain in place in virtually all of the countries in question. The US Tennis Association will then decide in June whether the US Open can go ahead in New York from 31 August.Top of Form The French Tennis Federation has switched the clay court French Open Grand Slam tournament from its May start to 20 September to 4 October. Of the four Grand Slam events, only the Australian Open has been held. The women’s Fed Cup finals scheduled in Budapest from 14-19 April were postponed.
The Rugby Football Union will be hit with revenue losses of 107million sterling if the 2020 autumn internationals are cancelled because of coronavirus, chief executive Bill Sweeney said last week. He said the lost revenue would be 85million sterling if games were played without fans. England are scheduled to host New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and Australia at Twickenham in November. This season’s European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quarter-finals will not be played before September after the French government banned all sport for the next four months. The last eight of the competitions, involving six French teams, were due to take place from 3-5 April. Organisers European Professional Club Rugby still want to complete this season’s competitions.The finals of the two competitions had originally been scheduled to take place in Marseille next month. The French Top 14 rugby union season has already been abandoned after the league’s organisers (LNR) and the club presidents reached an agreement to call off the campaign. English Premiership Rugby was further postponing the current season, and working with the Rugby Football Union (RFU), Rugby Players Association (RPA), clubs’ Directors of Rugby and medical staff to scenario-plan for a number of restart dates with all measures put in place to ensure safety and wellbeing. England’s Rugby Football Union and Wales’ governing body confirmed the end of the 2019-20 season for all league, cup and county rugby. 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, has also shut down its season with plans to resume on 28 May with matches to be played behind closed doors.
Road cycling’s premier competition, the Tour de France, will start on 29 August and end on 20 September, with the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana overlapping during October, the UCI has announced. Cycling’s three Grand Tour races will be part of a packed schedule across just over three months from 1 August. The Tour de France – pushed back from June – had been cast into doubt when the French government said it was “not sure” the country would be ready. France has extended a ban on mass gatherings until September and French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu cast doubts over the Tour de France’s viability for 2020 when she said: “We do not know what the epidemic will be like after lockdown.” The Tour had been scheduled to run from 27 June to 19 July. The Giro d’Italia will run from 3-25 October, and the Vuelta from 20 October to 8 November, which means two of the biggest races of the season will run concurrently. The UCI schedule will see Milan-Sanremo held on 8 August, Liege-Bastogne-Liege on 4 October, the Tour des Flandres on 18 October, Paris-Roubaix on 25 October and the Tour of Lombardy on 31 October. Four-time winner Tour de France winner Chris Froome is set to return to the Tour, which is due to start in Nice, after he missed the 2019 race following a high-speed accident in which he broke his neck, femur, elbow, hip and ribs. Meanwhile, the European Road Cycling Championships in Italy this September have been postponed by a year.
Racing in France resumed on Monday behind closed doors. The sport has been suspended since 17 March but police gave permission for racing to take place at ParisLongchamp. Edouard de Rothschild, president of governing body France Galop, said the authorisation for the 10-race card of top-class racing was “very good news”. British racing was planning for a resumption this month, including 16 Group races on successive weekends, but these plans have now been put back until 1 June in three weeks’ time, following a government announcement on Monday that there will be no professional sport in England, even behind closed doors, until at least the start of next month. Thirteen British meetings were being planned to take place behind closed doors later this month. It is still hoped that the season’s first two Classics – the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas – will be held on the first weekend in June. The United States, Australia, Japan and Hong Kong have continued to stage race meetings behind closed doors in recent weeks.
The 2020 European Athletics Championships in Paris, due to be staged at the Charlety Stadium from 25-30 August, have been cancelled. This follows the postponement of the World Athletics Championships scheduled for 2021 in Eugene, Oregon, to the summer of 2022 because of the Olympic Games rescheduling. The Diamond League has postponed its first seven meetings of the 2020 season due to be held between April and June. 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 World Triathlon Grand Final set for this August in Edmonton, Canada, will not take place in 2020, organisers said on Friday.The Paris and Barcelona marathons have been called off, the London Marathon has been postponed till 4 October, the Boston Marathon has been put back from 20 April to 14 September.
The International Ski Federation (ISF) cancelled the final races of the men’s Alpine skiing World Cup. The World Cup finals in Cortina were cancelled along with the last three women’s races in Are. The women’s world ice hockey championships in Canada have been cancelled. The Ice Hockey World Championship scheduled for Switzerland in May have also been cancelled. The speed skating world championships in Seoul were postponed until at least October.
Major League Soccer (MLS) has extended the moratorium on matches until at least 8 June. League play has been suspended since March 12 but players returned to voluntary training on 6 May. The NBA and the NHL have suspended their seasons and Major League Baseball (MLB) has further delayed its 2020 season’s opening day of 26 March with any hope for a season start still weeks away. The NBA notified teams they could reopen practice facilities on 8 May under strict guidelines. The NFL season will begin on Sept. 10 with a game between Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans.
Former world champion Amir Khan has said he has no intention of boxing behind closed doors if and when boxing returns. British boxing bosses hope to see fight nights return in July but initially fans will be unable to attend. “Even though there is big money I wouldn’t be able to do it as I need the fan base there,” Khan told BBC. The impact of the virus on the sport has prompted widespread cancellations and postponements. The British Boxing Board of Control is currently in dialogue with promoters over a July return but strict measures would need to be in place, including a ban on fans. The impact of the virus on the sport has prompted widespread cancellations and postponements, including the world heavyweight title contest between Briton Anthony Joshua and the IBF’s mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev of Bulgaria which was originally scheduled for 20 June. The 30-year-old Joshua reclaimed the WBA, WBO and IBF belts with a unanimous points win over Andy Ruiz Jr in December.
Snooker supremo Barry Hearn has said the 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.
Next year’s Badminton World Championships in Huelva, Spain, have been rescheduled for November and December after the original dates clashed with the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) confirmed on Friday the event is set to take place from November 29 to December 5. Confirmation of the new dates for Tokyo 2020, delayed until 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, made it inevitable that the World Championships would have to be moved. The Thomas and Uber Cup will be held from 3-11 October.
For full updates on the fate and rescheduling of sporting events go to:
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