Coronavirus cancellations and reactions in sports
As COVID-19, a strain of the coronavirus, has spread around the globe in recent months, tournaments, games and other sporting events have been canceled, while others have been modified.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s top infectious diseases expert, says the only way professional sports will happen this summer is to do so without fans in attendance and by keeping players in hotels.
The NBA was the first to suspend its season on March 12, and the NCAA canceled all remaining spring and winter championships, including the men’s and women’s basketball tournaments. MLB canceled the remainder of spring training, though there is a chance a delayed Opening Day could begin in Arizona in May. The NHL also suspended its season and is trying to figure out the fate of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and golf’s first major tournament of the year, the Masters, has been postponed until November. The Boston Marathon postponed its race until Sept. 14; the London Marathon has been postponed from April 26 to Oct. 4. The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games have been moved to July 2021, and the 2020 Invictus Games have been postponed, as well. Scripps originally said it would not hold the National Spelling Bee as scheduled in late May, then canceled it; the Little League World Series will not be played in August for the first time since 1947.
Here’s a look at how the coronavirus is affecting sports in the U.S. and around the world:
The NCAA called off its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments as part of a complete cancellation of all remaining spring and winter championships.
Fans leave after being told the Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz game had been canceled. Alonzo Adams/USA TODAY Sports
In municipalities where coronavirus testing has become readily available to at-risk health care workers, NBA teams opening facilities for voluntary workouts will be allowed to administer tests to asymptomatic players and staff.
Major League Baseball expects to offer a return-to-play proposal to the MLB Players Association within a week, as teams have begun to encourage players to prepare for a “spring” training that could begin in mid-June and a season that could start in early July.
The NHL has postponed its international games in 2020.
The NFL has released its 2020 season schedule, but commissioner Roger Goodell told teams in a memo that adjustments will be made if necessary.
If the league does need scheduling help that science cannot provide for the coronavirus pandemic, and delays to the season’s start eventually become necessary, sources around the league indicated that Super Bowl LV could be pushed back by weeks or even a couple of months. Read more
How Important Is It for Sports to Return?
I think it is possible to both understand the gravity of the current crisis we are facing in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and miss sports.
Or as my friend Ryan Ruocco, play-by-play announcer for ESPN and the YES Network put it, “For all of us we understand the bigger picture here. But that doesn’t mean you can’t care about the things within the littler picture. We only care about sports within the context of understanding there is a much bigger foe to handle right now and that’s obviously this virus that threatens lives.”
Clearly sports matter not at all when it comes to public safety. No one should argue otherwise. However, there is the notion of an escape, distraction, or something to rally around and to be honest that is talking point that I was way more dismissive of until recently. Because while I have stayed informed, I’d also love to have something like the NBA to take my mind off the current circumstances and to provide the sense of community that comes with a shared experience.
Whatever happens with previously scheduled games this moment in history and sports will be forever connected. Not only because sports stopped but due to the signal it sent to many in the general public.
A sentiment Ruocco also shared, “Normally when something is going awry in the world sports is where we escape to and it’s just so bizarre to not have that lane to escape to…sports sort of sprung our country into action when it comes to treating this virus with the seriousness that we needed to.” Read more
The 2018 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XXIII Olympic Winter Games and commonly known as PyeongChang 2018, is an ongoing international multi-sport event hosted by the county of Pyeongchang, South Korea. The country was selected as the host city in July 2011, during the 123rd IOC Session in Durban, South Africa. It marks the first time that South Korea has hosted the Winter Olympics, and the second Olympics held in the country, the first being the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. And it’s the first time since 1998 that the Winter Olympics are held in Asia.
The Winter Olympics runs from 8 to 25 February 2018. The games feature 102 events in fifteen sports, including the addition of big air snowboarding, mass start speed skating, mixed doubles curling, and mixed team alpine skiing to the Winter Olympic programme. A total of 2,952 athletes from 92 National Olympic Committees are slated to compete, including the debut of Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore.
The lead-up to these Games was affected by the ongoing tensions between South Korea and North Korea, and also the ongoing missile crisis involving the country. These led to security concerns, with several countries threatening to skip the games if their safety was not ensured, including the United States. In January 2018, after their first high-level talks in over two years, North Korea agreed to participate in the Games. The countries also marched together during the opening ceremony and agreed to field a unified women’s hockey team. Read more