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How coronavirus could affect the Olympics, Euro 2020, Six Nations, and other sporting events in 2020

The worldwide outbreak of coronavirus had led to the death of nearly 3,000 people and in a bid to contain its spreading, sporting events around the world are being moved or cancelled.

Ireland vs Italy, a men's Six Nations clash, was cancelled on Wednesday, while the Formula 1 China Grand Prix has also been called off.

There are also questions about events taking place later this year, including the 2020 Olympics and Euro 2020.

Here is the latest news on those and across sport.


Dick Pound, the longest-serving member of the International Olympic Committee, this week raised fresh concern over the fate of the 2020 Olympics - taking place in Tokyo - by suggesting there is a risk of cancellation if the virus is not contained by the end of May.

Pound says he estimates there is a three-month window to decide the fate of the Games in Japan while it continues to spread. “This is the new war and you have to face it," he told the AP news agency.

"In and around that time, I’d say folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo, or not?’”

Pound's comments came after he British Olympic Association moved to calm a potential diplomatic spat with Japan after a London mayoral candidate caused offence by suggesting the Games should be moved to the British capital due to the coronavirus. Tokyo's governor reacted angrily after Shaun Bailey, the Conservative candidate for mayor, said organisers should "seriously consider" London "given the ongoing disruption" caused by the outbreak. Yuriko Koike said Baily's comments were "inappropriate", and the Daily Telegraph understands the BOA has subsequently contacted both the Tokyo organising committee and the International Olympic Committee to distance British sporting officials from him. 

The Indian shooting federation has dropped Italy as a training venue for its shooters and also cancelled plans to set up a pre-Olympic base in South Korea following the coronavirus outbreak, its president told Reuters on Thursday.

Australian swimming great Ian Thorpe says athletes should not put their Olympic dreams before their health in deciding whether to compete at the Tokyo Games as global health authorities battle to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Tom Morgan

Euro 2020

Fears are mounting that the coronavirus could throw this summer’s European Championship into chaos, with organisers confirming they were “monitoring” the potential pandemic.

The deadly disease struck a fifth country (on Tuesday February 25) scheduled to co-host the first pan-continental Euros, with Spain joining the UK, Germany, Russia and Italy.

Three more nations to have qualified for Euro 2020 – Switzerland, Croatia and Austria – also confirmed their first cases of the virus, which began in the Far East but is now sweeping across Europe.

The spread of the disease in Italy has already decimated football and rugby fixtures there, putting England’s final Six Nations match in Rome firmly under threat.

Rome is also the venue for the opening game of Euro 2020 on June 12, as well as two other group matches – including Italy v Wales – and a quarter-final.

A Uefa spokesman told the Daily Telegraph he was unaware of any formal discussions about the coronavirus and the tournament, with the governing body currently focused on club fixtures to have been affected.

"Euro 2020 will kick off on 12th June 2020 in Rome. Uefa is in touch with the relevant international and local authorities regarding the Coronavirus and its development. For the moment, there is no need to change anything in the planned timetable. The issue will be kept under constant scrutiny."

Ben Rumsby


Four Serie A football fixtures were postponed over the weekend and the second leg of Inter Milan's Europa League round of 32 clash against Ludogorets will be played behind closed doors at San Siro on Thursday.

Five Serie A matches - including Juventus' top-of-the-table clash with Inter on Sunday - will be played behind closed doors this weekend. The others are: Udinese v Fiorentina (Sat, 17:00 GMT); AC Milan v Genoa (Sun, 11:30 GMT); Parma v Spal (Sun, 14:00 GMT); Sassuolo v Brescia (Sun, 14:00 GMT).

Wolvehampton Wanderers have also urged fans travelling to Spain for Thursday's Europa League match with Espanyol to do so 'with caution'. The club said: "Supporters are urged to travel with caution and encouraged to comply with any additional screening measures put in place by local authorities.

"For any supporters making the trip it is important to read government advice about coronavirus and guidance on travelling to Spain.


Rugby and Six Nations

Status: Ireland v Italy postponed; Italy v England could follow

The Irish Rugby Football Union said on Wednesday it has postponed the country's Six Nations fixture against Italy due to the coronavirus outbreak in northern Italy, following a recommendation from Irish health authorities.

The game was scheduled to take place in Dublin on March 7 with thousands of Italian supporters, many from the regions most affected by the outbreak, expected to make the trip.

There have been no confirmed reports of coronavirus in Ireland.

England men's, women's and under-20s are due to face Italy in Rome between March 13 and 15. There has been no update on whether these fixtures will be postponed.

Formula 1

The Chinese Grand Prix scheduled for Shanghai on April 19 has already been called and there are fears about the chances of Vietnam's race going ahead as the virus spreads globally.

Vietnam's first Formula One Grand Prix will go ahead as planned on April 5 despite continuing concern about the coronavirus epidemic that has caused the cancellation of China's race.

Australian Grand Prix organisers are planning for the season-opener to go ahead at Albert Park on March 15 despite government warnings that "all options", including cancellation, would be considered if an outbreak of the coronavirus occurs.

"We will take our guidance and lead from the health authorities and fall into line with their instructions. We have to be open-minded," Australian Grand Prix boss Andrew Westacott told local media.

Meanwhile, the all-electric Formula E motor racing series abandoned plans for a race in Sanya, on China's Hainan island, on March 21.



Cycling's world governing body the UCI admitted it was impossible to predict whether races in Italy will need to be cancelled.

Organisers RCS have already said that Milan-San Remo, one of the biggest one-day races on the world calendar, may not go ahead on March 21 as it is due to visit affected areas.

Before then, the one-day Strade Bianche and the week-long Tirreno-Adriatico are due to take place in the country, while the running of the Giro d'Italia in May could be in doubt.


Nanjing was scheduled to host the World Athletics Indoor Championships from March 13-15, but following the emergence of coronavirus in Wuhan, the event has been postponed until 2021. The Hong Kong Marathon - due to take place on February 8 - was also cancelled.


The Maybank Championship in Malaysia and the Volvo China Open in Shenzhen have both been postponed because of the outbreak of the coronavirus, the European Tour confirmed

The PGA Tour Series-China confirmed recently two qualifying tournaments scheduled for Bintan, Indonesia and Phuket in Thailand had been postponed. The knock-on impact means the four opening competitions - the Sanya Championship (March 23-29), the Haikou Classic (March 30-April 5), the Chongqing Championship (April 6-12) and the Guangzhou Open (April 13-19) - will now not go ahead as originally planned.

The HSBC Women's World Championships was set for Singapore at the end of February, but along with the Honda LPGA Thailand in Pattaya, have both been called off. The Blue Bay LPGA, scheduled for the start of March on the southern Chinese island of Hainan, will now also not take place due to the continued health concerns in the region.


Having already seen the impact of the Australian bush fires on the start of the 2020 season, the International Tennis Federation made the decision to move the Fed Cup Asia/Oceania Group I event from Dongguan, China, to Kazakhstan. The event, though, was eventually scrapped after organisers in Nur-Sultan declined to take up the role of replacement hosts.



Following several players puling out of the China Masters in Hainan, the competition was eventually cancelled. The China and Hong Kong's men and women squad as well as India's women withdrew from the Asia Team Championships in Manila. A decision has yet to be made over whether the Asia Championships will run as planned in Wuhan at the end of April.


The Women's basketball Olympics qualifiers were switched from Foshan to Belgrade, Serbia - where Great Britain saw their hopes of reaching Tokyo 2020 dashed.

Japan's professional baseball league says it will play its 72 remaining preseason games in empty stadiums because of the threat of the spreading coronavirus. The regular season is to open on March 20.


The international boxing federation (AIBA) has cancelled its European forum, which was scheduled to take place in the Italian town of Assisi on Saturday, amid fears over the coronavirus outbreak, AIBA said on Thursday.   


India women's hockey tour of China has been cancelled, while the International Hockey Federation also announced that the FIH Hockey Pro League matches between Australia and China, set to be played on March 14 and 15 in Chengdu, will also be put on hold.


Spectators and teams at the Thailand MotoGP will face rigorous health screening and be given hand sanitiser and facemasks to keep the event coronavirus-free, organisers said Thursday.

The March 20-22 event in Buriram is going ahead despite fears over the deadly virus which have decimated Thailand's tourist numbers during peak season.


The lucrative China Open ranking event in Beijing was set to take place from March 30 until April 5 as part of the build-up to the World Championship in Sheffield. However, concerns over the coronavirus outbreak saw the World Snooker Tour cancel the event, with discussions continuing over when it can be played.


Yanqing was set to host a round of the FIS World Cup over February 15/16, but the event was cancelled by the governing body amid the growing concerns, with the World Health Organization having declared coronavirus as a global emergency.

Speed skating

World Short Track Speed Skating Championships - scheduled to take place in Seoul next month - have been cancelled due to the spread of the virus.

Table tennis

The world championship to be held in Busan, South Korea, from March 22-29 has been pushed back provisionally to June 21-28.


The Asian weightlifting championships has been relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. The competition, scheduled for April 16-25, will be hosted in Tashkent.