For all but those over 80 years old, we haven’t seen anything like it. The potential damage to humanity from the Covid-19 outbreak could be calamitous, but it’s practically scorched the earth in terms of the sporting world. Not since World War Two has there been such massive disruption to sports, and in this modern age where you can watch games from across the world live rather than finding out results a week later in the newspaper, the effect is profound.
While parts of Europe, and particularly Italy which has been hard hit, have been taking serious measures for up to two weeks, two events yesterday spurred a raft of more. Firstly the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak a global pandemic, but the more dramatic came at the start of the NBA clash between Oklahoma City and Utah. With the referees literally about throw the ball up to start, a member of the Thunder’s medical staff rushed the floor. Proceedings were halted, and after a delay the game was called off. Only afterwards did the details emerge that Utah’s Rudy Gobert had tested positive for the virus; and the upshot being that the Jazz and the five teams that they had played in recent days were ordered into isolation, along with two others that had used the same charter jet in that the Jazz had in that time.
With nearly a third of the teams in the league out of action, the NBA had no real option but to suspend operations, and others across North America swiftly followed suit.
This morning I’ve tried to compile a list of major leagues and championships that have suspended play or gone behind closed doors, and thanks to the Twitteratti who have added more:
So here goes…..
The NBA – suspended
The NHL – suspended
Major League Baseball – spring training cancelled and season delayed by at least two weeks
The NFL – Owners meeting cancelled, and teams sending personnel home and shutting training and administration facilities
Major League Soccer – suspended
The PGA Tour – playing behind closed doors from tomorrow until further notice
NASCAR – racing, but no entry to fans until further notice
Serie A – suspended
La Liga – suspended
Bundesliga – behind closed doors
Ligue 1 – very limited fan entry
UEFA Champions and Europa Leagues – some matches suspended, others behind closed doors
ATP and WTA Tours – tournaments cancelled
PRO 14 Rugby – suspended
US Major League Rugby – suspended
Sevens World Series – Singapore and Hong Kong tournaments postponed
Moto GP – racing cancelled
Formula One – Australian GP this weekend cancelled
US College basketball and ice hockey conference tournaments, plus others – cancelled
There could still be more, as of writing England and Scotland’s football leagues as still operating as normal, although the match between Arsenal and Manchester City was postponed during the week, as is England’s rugby Premiership.
You wonder how long before Super Rugby is impacted beyond the Sunwolves having to play home games in Australia, or the A-League, or others.
And bigger decisions loom on the horizon, the US the annual institution of March Madness – the national college basketball tournament – has to be in serious doubt, while beyond that the greatest show of them all, the Olympic Games in Tokyo, has a very large cloud over it.
These are very strange and unique times.
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