Cycling’s premier event, the Tour de France, postponed from its 27 June start, will now begin on 29 August, following the French government’s extension of a ban on mass gatherings to mid-July. Meanwhile the English Premier League is still examining options to finish the current season but has no specific date for resumption. Formula One is hoping to start its season with the Austrian Grand Prix in early July after lockdown restrictions in the host country were eased.
Here is our update on further cancellations and postponements as Codiv-19 casts its invisible shadow over the staging of every major sporting event.
Football – English Premier League clubs on Friday discussed possible models for finishing the current season but did not consider a specific date for play to resume while the British Government lockdown restrictions remain in place. The league has been suspended since 13 March because of coronavirus. Representatives of the 20 teams took part in a conference call to look at various possible options for restarting the season and remained committed to completing the fixtures rather than voiding the season. A Premier League spokesperson said: “It remains our objective to complete the 2019-20 season but at this stage all dates are tentative while the impact of COVID-19 develops.” The EFL, Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship have all suspended play without setting a target return date, meaning the entirety of English football is on hold indefinitely. Euro 2020, Europe’s flagship tournament, will now be staged from 11 June to July 11, 2021. UEFA 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 would see the Champions League final end the 2019-20 season on 29 August. It will meet on 23 April for more discussions about how to complete the campaign. All the major European leagues have been suspended. Seasons across Asia and South America have been either postponed or suspended.
Cycling: The postponed 2020 Tour de France will now start on 29 August, following the French government’s extension of a ban on mass gatherings to mid-July. Cycling’s biggest event, won by Team Ineos’ Egan Bernal last year, was originally scheduled to run from 27 June to 19 July. “Holding this event in the best conditions possible is judged essential given its central place in cycling’s economy,” said the UCI, the sport’s governing body. Four-time winner Chris Froome is set to return at this year’s Tour, which is set 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. The Giro d’Italia, scheduled to start in Budapest, Hungary on 9 May, has been postponed while the Road World Championships remain scheduled at the end of September in Switzerland. A decision is still to be made on the final Grand Tour of the year, the Vuelta a Espana, which is due to start on 14 August.
Formula One – Formula One’s latest plan to get the 2020 season off the ground is to hold the Austrian Grand Prix as scheduled followed by two races at Silverstone. The first nine races have all been postponed as a result of the global coronavirus crisis and F1 is facing a moving target as it seeks a start date. But the easing of lockdown restrictions in Austria might mean its race could go ahead on 3-5 July behind closed doors. It could be followed by two races at Silverstone, also without spectators. The tentative plan was outlined to teams by F1 bosses at a meeting last Thursday at which proposals to reduce the sport’s budget cap to $130m (£104.6m) by 2022 were also discussed. However, any proposal on the calendar depends on external factors, particularly the situation with the spread of coronavirus in each individual country. F1 bosses have said they do not want to start the season if they cannot carry it on.
Motor Sports – The motorcycle German Grand Prix has become the eighth MotoGP race to be postponed because of coronavirus, pushing back further the start of the new season. The race was scheduled for 21 June at the Sachsenring The German government and regional state governors have extended a ban on big events until the end of August. Races in Qatar, Thailand, the United States, Argentina, France, Spain and Italy have also been postponed. 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, have all been called off. 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.
The Olympics – A leading global health scientist has said it was very unrealistic the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics would take place next year unless a coronavirus vaccine was found by then. Professor Devi Sridhar said the development of effective and affordable treatment would be a “game-changer” in whether the postponed Games take place. The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organisers held an executive board meeting last week at which they reiterated their hope the Games could be the “light at the end of the tunnel”. However, IOC coordination commission chair John Coates acknowledged Covid-19 could still affect the rescheduled Olympics, which are due to take place from 23 July-8 August 2021. He told a news conference on Thursday it could have an impact in terms of “mass gatherings or testing of athletes” and that the IOC would be be guided by the World Health Organization. Professor Sridhar, who is chair of global health at the University of Edinburgh, said the chances of Tokyo 2020 going ahead as planned all depended on a vaccine..”We’re hearing from the scientists that this could be possible. I had thought it would be a year or a year and a half away but we’re hearing possibly this could come sooner,” she said.
Tennis – The 2020 Laver Cup will not go ahead in September as planned and will return next year due to the clash of dates with the French Open, the organisers said on Friday. The French Tennis Federation, in a surprise move, switched the clay court Grand Slam tournament from its May start to 20 September to 4 October because of the coronavirus lockdown.The new dates clashed with the 25-27 September Laver Cup, which is a team event co-created by Roger Federer and featuring the best of Europe against a World team. The men’s ATP Tour and the WTA, which runs the women’s circuit, suspended all tournaments until mid-July. Wimbledon, the jewel in the tennis crown, has been cancelled while the French Open’s new slot means the tournament will start a week after the U.S. Open takes place on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows in New York. Of the four Grand Slam events in 2020, only the Australian Open has been played. The women’s Fed Cup finals scheduled in Budapest from 14-19 April have been postponed.
Golf – The Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club due to be held in North Berwick from 9-12 July in July has been postponed – with talks ongoing about a rescheduled date. The European Tour’s BMW International Open in Munich and the Open de France near Paris have also been cancelled. The latest victims of the coronavirus outbreak join the cancelled 149th Open Championship, due to take place in July at Royal St George’s in Kent, and 2020’s three other majors, all in the US, which have been rescheduled. The Augusta Masters has been put back from April to November, while the US PGA Championship is slated for August. The US Open, at Winged Foot, New York, is being moved from June to September, a week before the Ryder Cup. The British Open will now be hosted by the same venue in Kent in 2021. The Ryder Cup – the biennial event that pitches Europe’s finest golfers against their American counterparts – is being kept in its late September slot at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin.
Rugby Union – World Rugby, the global governing body, is exploring options for rearranging the international rugby calendar in the short term in preparation for sport restarting. World Rugby’s contingencies include the possibilities that cross-hemisphere travel may not be permitted, which would impact on the northern hemisphere’s autumn series, and that no international rugby at all may be feasible until 2021. “We are rapidly moving towards a viable calendar solution and, while compromises are being made, the outcome will be in the best interests of the whole game,” World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont, said on Thursday. Four Six Nations matches have been indefinitely postponed, leaving the tournament in limbo. Rugby Europe announced a suspension of all its matches and tournaments while France’s rugby federation suspended all its competitions, including Top 14. The European rugby season was suspended after European Professional Club Rugby postponed Champions Cup and Challenge Cup quarter-final, semi-final and final matches. England’s Rugby Football Union and Wales’ governing body confirmed the end of the 2019-20 season for all league, cup and county rugby, while the Gallagher English Premiership has been suspended until further notice. 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.
Athletics – The World Athletics Championships scheduled for 2021 in Eugene, Oregon, have been postponed to the summer of 2022 because of the Olympic Games rescheduling. The Diamond League has postponed its first five meetings of the 2020 season due to be held in April and May in Qatar, China, Stockholm, Naples and Rabat. 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 have been rescheduled for 8-9 August. The event, which normally acts as trials for the Olympics, was meant to take place on 20-21 June in Manchester. The Paris and Barcelona marathons were called off, the London Marathon has been postponed till 4 October, the Boston Marathon has been put back from 20 April to 14 September.
Cricket – The 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL) was suspended until further notice, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced last Thursday. The Twenty20 competition, originally due to start on 29 March, was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, India’s lockdown was extended until 3 May. The UK domestic season has been postponed until at least 28 May. The England Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said the season could start behind closed doors, with England’s home season due to start on 4 June against West Indies. Australia and New Zealand’s limited-overs tours were postponed. The boards of India and South Africa agreed to reschedule a three-match ODI series to a later date. England’s two-match test series in Sri Lanka scheduled to start on 19 March was postponed.
Winter Sports – 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. The 16-22 March world figure skating championships in Montreal were cancelled.
American sports – 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 amid calls for gatherings of 50 or more people to be cancelled or postponed for eight weeks. The Major Soccer League (MLS) has suspended its season.
Boxing – The world heavyweight title fight between Briton Anthony Joshua and the IBF’s mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev of Bulgaria originally scheduled for 20 June has been postponed, promoters Matchroom Boxing said. Joshua’s defence of his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO titles was set to take place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium The 30-year-old Joshua reclaimed the WBA, WBO and IBF belts with a unanimous points win over Andy Ruiz Jr in December.
Snooker – The World Snooker Championship at the Crucible, Sheffield, between 18 April and 4 May has been postponed and will be re-arranged for July or August. The 1mln sterling China Open, scheduled to start in Beijing at the end of March, was cancelled. The Gibraltar Open was played behind closed doors, with some players forced to referee their own games.
Horse Racing – The Epsom Derby has been earmarked to run in July as part of the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) “best-case scenario” racing resumption plan. In addition, the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket could both run in early June, with the Oaks at Epsom Downs, also home of the Derby, in July. Royal Ascot – a highlight of the Group One racing calendar – remains scheduled to take place on 16 June. York has cancelled the Dante Festival, due to run from 13 to 15 May. The BHA said it hoped to resume flat racing behind closed doors at some stage in May, if given government approval. But spectators will not be allowed at any meetings before June, said the authority. All fixtures had already been postponed from 18 March to 30 April. Australia, Japan and Hong Kong have continued to stage race meetings behind closed doors in recent weeks.
For full updates on the fate of sporting events go to:
http://www.bbc.com/sport, http://www.espn.com, http://www.lequipe.fr, https://www.insidethegames.biz/, http://www.reuters.com/news/sports, www.sports.yahoo.com,www.skysports.com, www.eurosport.fr, midilibre.fr