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How the coronavirus has hit global sport

Juventus players celebrate in their empty stadium on Sunday © AFP / Vincenzo PINTO

PARIS, France, Mar 8AFP Sport looks at the effects on sport of the coronavirus, which at 7am Monday had killed 3,825 people while infecting more than 110,000 in over 100 countries.

FOOTBALL

— In Italy, the hardest-hit European country with 366 deaths from COVID-19, Serie A descended into controversy when Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora called for the league season to be put on hold.

Italian Footballers’ Association president Damiano Tommasi tweeted that “stopping football is the most useful thing for our country right now. The teams to cheer are playing in our hospitals, in emergency rooms.”

However, five Serie A games — cancelled the previous week — went ahead behind closed doors, including Juventus’ top of the table clash with Inter Milan.

— The Italian Cup semi-finals have also been postponed to a date to be arranged.

— The start of Japan’s J-League was postponed till mid-March while China suspended all domestic football and shelved indefinitely the top-flight Super League season.

— The Valencia v Atalanta Champions League clash on Tuesday will be played behind closed doors as will the Europa League tie featuring Inter Milan against Getafe on Thursday.

— Former Danish international Thomas Kahlenberg tested positive for the virus, with 13 members of his former club Brondby’s staff put into quarantine.

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TENNIS

— The ATP and WTA Indian Wells tournament was cancelled as California health officials declared a public health emergency in the Indian Wells-Palm Springs area after there was a confirmed case of the coronavirus, the first major sports event in the US to be shelved because of the outbreak.

Many players had already arrived with main draw matches having been scheduled to begin Wednesday.

The tournament, which draws more than 400,000 fans each year, had already offered refunds to anyone who bought tickets but did not want to attend.

MOTOR SPORT

— Bahrain’s Formula One Grand Prix on March 20-22 will be held without spectators.

— Formula One’s Chinese Grand Prix, which was set for April 19 in Shanghai, has been postponed.

— In motorcycling, the season-opening Qatar MotoGP, which should have taken place over the weekend, was cancelled and the Thailand MotoGP on March 22 postponed until October 4.

— Formula E postponed indefinitely the Rome E-Prix, which was due to be held on April 4.

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— The E-prix in Sanya, China, on March 21 has been cancelled.

BASKETBALL

— LeBron James said he won’t play if his Los Angeles Lakers have to hold games behind closed doors due to the outbreak.

No fans, no play: LeBron James © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP / Harry How

The NBA has reportedly told teams to look into strategies on how to play without fans in the arena amid concerns over the spreading virus.

“Nah. It’s impossible. If I show up to the arena and there ain’t no fans in the crowd, then I ain’t playing. This ain’t Europe.”

CYCLING

— The spring classic Milan-San Remo, scheduled for March 21, was postponed, having only previously been cancelled three times since the inaugural edition in 1907.

— The Strade Bianchi, the first big race of the Italian cycling season set for Saturday, was also cancelled along with the Tirreno-Adriatico while teams such as Mitchelton, Ineos and Astana pulled out of the Paris-Nice.

— The UAE Tour’s last two stages were abandoned with riders and teams subsequently quarantined in their Abu Dhabi hotels. The Gulf state announced eight coronavirus cases linked to the event — four Italians, two Russians, one German and a Colombian.

TOKYO OLYMPICS

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— International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said last week that the nightmare scenario of either cancelling or postponing this year’s Tokyo Olympics was not discussed at a key meeting.

“Neither the word cancellation nor postponement was mentioned today during the Executive Board meeting,” Bach told reporters in Lausanne.

The Olympics take place from July 24-August 9.

RUGBY UNION

— The Six Nations match between Italy and England in Rome on March 14 as well as the Ireland v Italy duel in Dublin on March 7 were postponed.

— Scotland’s women’s Six Nations match against France on Saturday was postponed after a Scottish player tested positive for the coronavirus.

— Sevens World Series tournaments in Hong Kong on April 3-5 and Singapore the following weekend will now be played in October.

CRICKET

— Nepal’s Everest Premier League, scheduled to begin on March 14, has been called off. The fourth edition of the Twenty20 league was to have featured West Indies batting star Chris Gayle.

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GOLF

— European Tour chiefs postponed the Maybank Championship in Malaysia, China Open in Shenzhen — both set for April and the Magical Kenya Open set for this week in Nairobi.

— The US LPGA Tour cancelled all three of its lucrative early-season events in Asia with a combined prize purse of more than $5 million.

— The Asian Tour has cancelled tournaments this week on Thailand and later this month in Bangladesh.

ATHLETICS

— The World Indoor Championships, scheduled for Nanjing from March 13-15, were postponed until next year.

— World half-marathon championships, due to be held on March 29 in the Polish city of Gdynia, shelved until October 17.

— The Paris Marathon, scheduled for April 5 with 60,000 registered runners, was postponed until October 18.

— The Barcelona Marathon, which was scheduled for March 15 with 17,000 runners, was postponed until October.

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ALPINE SKIING

— The World Cup finals, scheduled for Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy between March 16-22, were cancelled.

ICE HOCKEY

— The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships, set for Halifax and Truro in Nova Scotia for March 31 to April 10, were cancelled.

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