UEFA Euro 2020
UEFA has called meetings for Tuesday to address the impact on its competitions caused by Coronavirus, with European football’s governing body expected to announce the postponement of Euro 2020.
Due to its unique hosting template, Euro 2020 has appeared especially problematic as the virus has swept across Europe. The tournament is due to be held across 12 stadia in 12 different nations, and is scheduled to kick off in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on June 12, with Italy the centre of the outbreak on the continent.
Wembley Stadium is serving as the centrepiece of Euro 2020, with the final, semi-finals, Round of 16 and group stage games taking place in London. Munich (Allianz Arena), Baku (Olympic Stadium), Saint Petersburg (Gazprom Arena), Copenhagen (Parken Stadium), Dublin (Aviva Stadium), Glasgow (Hampden Park), Bucharest (Arena Naționala), Amsterdam (Johan Cruyff Arena), Bilbao (San Mamés) and Budapest (Puskás Aréna) are also due to stage games.
The Coronavirus has already affected a number of UEFA Champions League and Europa League games, with multiple reports stating that next week’s meeting is likely to see Euro 2020 postponed to the summer of 2021.
UEFA said in a statement: “In the light of the ongoing developments in the spread of COVID-19 across Europe and the changing analysis of the World Health Organization, UEFA has today invited representatives of its 55 member associations, together with the boards of the European Club Association and the European Leagues and a representative of FIFPro, to attend meetings by videoconference on Tuesday 17 March to discuss European football’s response to the outbreak. Discussions will include all domestic and European competitions, including UEFA Euro 2020.”
UEFA this morning announced that all its club competitions matches scheduled for next week, including the Champions League and Europa League, are postponed.
Major League Baseball (MLB) has delayed the start of its season by at least two weeks and suspended the rest of its spring training schedule. Opening day of the 2020 season had been set for March 26 and the announcement calls into question whether each team will still play 162 games.
In the stadium space, the Texas Rangers had been due to open its new retractable-roof ballpark, Globe Life Field, with an exhibition match against St. Louis Cardinals on March 23 before the regular season opener versus the Los Angeles Angels on March 31.
In a statement, the League said: “MLB and the clubs have been preparing a variety of contingency plans regarding the 2020 regular season schedule. MLB will announce the effects on the schedule at an appropriate time and will remain flexible as events warrant, with the hope of resuming normal operations as soon as possible.”
The National Hockey League (NHL) has suspended its season following the news on Wednesday that an NBA player had tested positive for Coronavirus. A number of NHL teams share arenas with NBA outfits, with League commissioner Gary Bettman citing this as a reason for the “pause” to the season.
Bettman said: “The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures. However, following news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus – and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point – it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time.”
The NHL currently has 189 games left in its season and Bettman added: “Our goal is to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent, so that we will be able to complete the season and award the Stanley Cup.”
Formula 1 has cancelled the opening round of its 2020 season, Melbourne’s Australian Grand Prix, with executive chairman and CEO Chase Carey admitting it is difficult to see when the campaign will commence.
F1, governing body of the motor-racing championship the FIA and Australian Grand Prix Corporation confirmed the decision in the early hours of the morning local time, with F1 having been criticised over its approach to the event. F1 said the decision was eventually made following McLaren’s withdrawal from the race on Thursday, after one of their team members tested positive for the Coronavirus.
All ticket holders will receive a full refund. The second round of the season is due to take place behind closed doors in Bahrain on March 22, while the fourth round, the Chinese GP in Shanghai, has already been cancelled. Speaking at a press conference in Melbourne today (Friday), Carey said: “It is a pretty difficult situation to predict. Everybody uses the word ‘fluid’ and it is a fluid situation.
“The situation today is different than it was two days ago or even four days ago. Trying to look out and make those sorts of predictions, when it is changing this quick, it is challenging.”
The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) have also acted concerning their events. The ATP has announced a six-week suspension of the men’s professional tennis tour meaning all events scheduled up to and inclusive of the week of April 20 will not take place.
Following the recent cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, the affected ATP Tour events are the Miami Open, the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston, the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech, the Monte-Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, and the Hungarian Open in Budapest.
Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP chairman, said: “This is not a decision that was taken lightly and it represents a great loss for our tournaments, players, and fans worldwide. The worldwide nature of our sport and the international travel required presents significant risks and challenges in today’s circumstances, as do the increasingly restrictive directives issued by local authorities.”
The WTA has taken a slightly different approach. Along with the Miami Open, a major men’s and women’s event, the Volvo Car Open in Charleston has been pulled, as well as tournaments in Bogota and Guadalajara. However, WTA chairman and CEO, Steve Simon, said a decision on the European clay court season will be made in the week ahead. This is due to begin in Stuttgart and Istanbul on April 20.
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