The world has been gripped by the fear of coronavirus, also known as Covid-19, continuing to spread and creating a worldwide epidemic for weeks. Governments across the globe have put in precautions to keep the virus from spreading further, including canceling international sports matches. These matches have been canceled in hopes of keeping large groups of people from interacting with potentially infected citizens.
Olympics Qualifiers Cancelled
With the 2020 Olympics being held in Tokyo, Japan most of the qualifiers had been scheduled to take place in Japan and surrounding areas in China. However, several of these qualifiers were meant to happen in Wuhan, China and due to this being the viruses origin point officials have canceled any events taking place. The BBC reported that the Women’s Soccer qualifier meant to happen on January 26, would be moved from China to Australia.
The International Olympic Committee also canceled the boxing qualifiers and rescheduled them to take place in Jordan in March. Several more events have been rescheduled and moved to other countries that have yet to be touched by Covid-19. As the virus continues to spread it can be expected that more Olympic related events will be postponed or canceled until it is deemed safe for them to take place.
Athletes Are Subject to Quarantine, Public Shut Out
Upon their arrival in Australia, the Chinese Women’s National Soccer team was quarantined to their hotel rooms until doctors could confirm that none of the players were carrying the virus. This came after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Australia just days earlier. All of the players were declared healthy and went on to play.
While most qualifiers are open to the public some events have been declared closed-door matches in hopes of not only keeping the public safe but also the athletes traveling from other countries from exposure. On January 30, all domestic soccer games were canceled for the national team, as well as non-Olympic level teams.
Rugby Takes a Big Hit
In the past five years, rugby has been gaining worldwide popularity. Even though it is not including in Olympic programming this is one of the most important times of the year for the sport. But due to the coronavirus fears, and the close contact involved in the game, numerous rugby matches have been postponed, canceled, or moved. The World Rugby Seven Series was meant to have matches held in Singapore and Hong Kong in April, but with the lack of control over the virus, those matches have been pushed back until October.
The Scotland Women’s Six Nations rugby match against Italy was postponed, as Italy is being listed as one of the countries most affected by this outbreak. Italy has suspended it’s youth rugby games and National Championships as well.
More Six Nation matches were scheduled for early and mid-March in Italy but the match of Ireland vs. Italy has already been postponed. The match meant to take place later in March is still on the schedule but that could change if officials decide it is still too dangerous.
What Does This Mean for Tokyo 2020?
The Olympic committee has stated that the games are still on for the summer, but if the virus is not controlled or eradicated that could change. Should there be no resolution to the spread of Covid 19 the games would be canceled for 2020. There would be nowhere to relocate the games to given the short time frame, and with countries refusing to have qualifiers moved to their country it is unlikely any country would allow the games to take place within their borders.