The world is facing a shutdown of sports competitions for the first time in decades with many clubs predicted to fail financially.
As of April 17, the spread of the coronavirus pandemic worldwide resulted in more than 150,000 deaths and more than two million infections. As countries around the world reel from the outbreak’s human and economic effects, sporting events around the globe have been especially hard hit.
The most notable sporting event to be canceled was the Olympics in Tokyo 2020, now rescheduled for summer 2021.
Globally, the sports industry is worth $480 billion to $620 billion, and worldwide markets will be taking a huge hit this year.
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Football: Sports Competitions in Europe
Italy, which has now become one of the hardest hit countries because of the coronavirus, was still going ahead with Series A football games in the beginning but without the fans.
As the virus grasped and spread across the country, the Italian government took increasingly desperate steps to halt the spread.
The Government declared in early March that it would suspend all domestic games, a move that has not yet been lifted.
Likewise, several matches were canceled by the German Football League and they pointed in a statement about what the financial implications could be for certain clubs.
“The goal is still to finish the season by the summer – from a sporting point of view, but especially because an early end to the season could have consequences that could threaten the existence of some clubs.”
Spain is among the worst affected countries, with more than 180,000 diseases and almost 20,000 deaths.
LaLiga and the Spanish soccer Federation (RFEF) have canceled football nationwide until further notice. Given the spread of the virus in the country, reopening football games will take a long time.
Russia moved early to cancel football matches and other sporting activities, following the lead of other European countries such as France and the Netherlands.
Originally, however, the suspension was to last until early April, as the coronavirus epidemic has escalated in Russia, the planned reopening date now is the end of May.
Russian football is one of the top five leagues in Europe, according to the Moscow Times, and is losing more than $12 million per week, putting financial pressure on many clubs.
It wasn’t until March 20 when, due to the coronavirus outbreak, Turkish Youth and Sports Minister Muharrem Kasapoglu made the announcement to suspend their football, basketball and volleyball leagues.
The country reported the first case on March 11, and the government has since worked rapidly to try to cover the virus.
With broadcasting profits on stake and an imminent suspension of the English Premier League, football clubs in the United Kingdom are mulling if footballing could simply be a “TV event.”
With several football teams nearly at the end of the season, clubs are working together to figure out whether matches could be played at Wembley Stadium, behind closed doors, without spectators.
In Europe, the Champions League and the Europa League could be left months from catching the coronavirus, said the UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin, earlier this month.
Football: Sports Competitions in Arica
Qualifying games for the 2021 African Cup of Nations have been postponed in Africa putting the competition for next year at risk.
Early measures were taken by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) as one of the largest footballing facilities on the continent although confirmed cases were small.
“Following the growing concerns of the Covid-19 virus and the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) describing it as a pandemic, CAF has decided to postpone the following competitions until further notice,” CAF stated in a statement.
Football: Sports Competitions in Asia
The Chinese Football Association said all domestic games at all levels would be suspended on January 30, in a bid to curb the coronavirus outbreak. China was the epicenter of the virus at the time.
Mid-March, the Asian Football Confederation voted to postpone all competitions until further notice after several member countries had postponed their domestic games or lockout imposed.
“Following the imposition of further preventive measures and travel restrictions by several national governments due to the current Covid-19 pandemic,” the entity stated in a statement. “The Asian Football Confederation has decided today to postpone all AFC Cup 2020 matches until further notice.”
The year’s signature sporting event would have been the Olympics in Tokyo. Japan’s last summer Olympics was in 1964, and has held two winter Olympics in between.
Initially, reluctant to cancel the Olympics and only after national teams started withdrawing their competitors, the International Olympic Committee and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed at the end of March to postpone the games until the summer of 2021.
In history, the Olympics were postponed just three times, and only because of world wars: 1916, 1940 and 1944.
The cricket world was gearing up for the new season of sports competitions when the coronavirus brought it to an abrupt halt.
One of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh’s most famous sports, the seasons were either postponed or cancelled in all three countries.
The billion-dollar Indian Premier League has been rescheduled to April 15, but with India still in lockdown it remains uncertain when it will continue to be indefinitely postponed again.
Likewise, in the knockout stages in late March, the Pakistani Super League was also cancelled after English cricketer Alex Hales, who had been in Pakistan for training, sent a warning that he may have contracted the coronavirus.
In England, another cricket powerhouse, there will be no official cricket games in England or Wales until May 28 at the most primitive.
In a statement the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said 900 tournaments were postponed.
The London-headquartered governing body has also announced that it would furlough half of its staff as it strives to deal with the coronavirus fallout.
In an identical move, the Women’s Tennis Association said, “The professional tennis season is now suspended through June 7, 2020, including the ATP Challenger Tour and ITF World Tennis Tour.”
This was also in early April that one of the highest profile tennis tournaments, Wimbledon, was postponed for the first time since World War II, a decision that seemed inevitable.
The 134th Championships would instead be performed in the summer of 2021.
International tennis rankings have been frozen, too, before the season begins, which is still uncertain.
Earlier this year, the death of basketball great Kobe Bryant in January sent shockwaves through the basketball world and other sports competitions beyond. His horrific death was now overtaken by incidents that influenced basketball, too.
On March 11 the National Basketball Association (NBA) agreed to suspend the season after a positive coronavirus test by one of its members.
They stated in a statement, “The NBA is suspending gameplay…until further notice,” the league told, “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) has postponed until further notice the start of the regular season, scheduled to begin on May 15.
“As developments continue to emerge around the COVID-19 pandemic, including the extension of the social distancing guidelines in the United States through April 30, the WNBA will postpone the start of its training camps and the tip of the regular season originally scheduled for May 15,” the WNBA stated in a statement.
Formula 1 unfolded in a statement, “Our intention is to start the 2020 season at some point this summer. At this time no-one can be certain of exactly when the situation will improve, but when it does, we will be ready to go racing again.”
At least nine Grand Prix so far have been cancelled or postponed with little sign that things are going to return to normal.
On April 19, the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai, scheduled to take place.
In addition, the Grand Prix in Azerbaijan slated to take place on June 7 has also been cancelled.
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