Spread of Coronavirus in China has not just cost human lives, affected business but also taken a heavy toll on domestic and international events in China.
China has suspended all football in the country on Thursday, hours after the World Indoor Athletics Championships and World Cup skiing were postponed, adding to a long list of sports events hit by the coronavirus outbreak.
The world’s most populous country has become an increasing powerhouse in hosting international sport in recent years but has had its 2020 sporting calendar thrown into chaos.
The football events affected by the decision on Thursday included all domestic football tournaments and indefinitely postponed the top-flight Chinese Super League season kick-off due for February 22 in order to “carry out prevention and control of the pneumonia epidemic,” said the Chinese Football Association.
The Asian Football Confederation had announced Wednesday that home Champions League group stage games featuring four Chinese clubs would be switched to away fixtures for the first three matchdays in February and March. A decision on venues for each club’s three home group matches will be made at a later date.
The Football Federation Australia announced that the schedule for the Tokyo 2020 women’s football qualifiers involving China, Australia, Taiwan and Thailand has been changed because of the Chinese squad’s quarantine. The tournament has been moved from Wuhan to Sydney by the Asian Football Confederation. It is scheduled to run from February 3 to 9. However, the Chinese squad, which had been in Wuhan earlier this week, is under quarantine in its Australian hotel until February 5.
The Chinese Football Federation said: “Our whole Chinese team including 21 players have received the 2019-nCoV virus test before departure to Australia, and the results were all negative. The team understands the concern of the Queensland government, the media and local people over the risk of coronavirus affection and will work closely with all stakeholders to fulfil all quarantine requirements. The team appreciates the support from Football Federation Australia and the Queensland authorities, and is convinced that a solution will be found by joint efforts to ensure the team’s training activities in preparation for the competition.”
The World Indoor Championships, scheduled for Nanjing from March 13-15, are postponed for a year. “It is with regret that we have agreed with the organisers to postpone the event to March 2021,” the sport’s governing body said in a statement.
A boxing qualification event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics initially scheduled from February 3 to 14 in Wuhan was rescheduled for Amman in Jordan from March 3-11.
Another Olympic qualifying tournament, Women’s basketball, a four-team battle for three Tokyo places between China, Great Britain, Spain and South Korea was moved on Monday from Foshan, in southern China, to Belgrade where it will run alongside another four-team group on February 6-9.
The Chinese leg of the Diving World Series, scheduled for March 7-9 in Beijing, “has been cancelled,” Cornel Marculescu, president of the international swimming federation, told AFP on Monday. He said the World Series of synchronised swimming, scheduled for Suzhou from April 23-25, was also in question.
The Cycling Tour of Hainan, due to be promoted to the second-tier ProSeries this year, was scheduled from February 23 to March 1 on the southern island of Hainan. It has been cancelled “due to the health situation in the country”, the International Cycling Union said on Monday but could be rescheduled later in 2020.
Men’s Skiing World Cup races set for Feb 15 and 16 in the Chinese resort of Yanqing, the first test events for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, were cancelled and shifted Thursday to Saalbach-Hinterglemm in Austria on Feb 13 and 14.
The Chinese Grand Prix race weekend is scheduled for Shanghai from April 17-19, an event which attracts tens of thousands of fans. “We are monitoring the situation in close collaboration with F1, the promoter and with the Federation of Automobile Sports in China, which is our conduit on the ground in China,” governing body FIA said in a statement. “We are all monitoring it together. At this stage not much we can do except watch the situation and react if necessary, if recommendations are made by the relevant authorities.”
The electric car racing series is also due to stage a race in China, on March 21 on the southern island of Hainan.
A Formula E statement read: “Given the current health concerns, we are continuing to closely monitor the situation as it develops on a daily basis. We have requested that our regional partner works together with the local motorsport federation, to liaise with the relevant authorities in Hainan province to further analyse and assess the situation and provide recommendations on preparations for the race.”
The Wrestling Asian Olympic qualifying tournament scheduled for March 27-29 in Xi’an could be cancelled. “We are following the situation closely and we are in close contact with the Chinese Federation and local authorities,” Nenad Lalovic, president of the International Wrestling Federation, told AFP on Monday. “We will make a decision within 15 days.”
The SportAccord annual convention, which brings together the presidents of the major international sports federations and the heads of the Olympic movement, including IOC President Thomas Bach, is due to take place in Beijing from April 19-24.
SportAccord is “closely monitoring the situation” and “is following the recommendations of the Chinese authorities and the WHO concerning travel to and from China,” a spokesman told AFP on Monday.