Coronavirus latest: Dortmund cancels Asia summer tour, Tokyo 2020 torch-lighting ceremony downsized, and more

GUANGZHOU, CHINA - JULY 18: Supporters of Borussia Dortmund at University Town Sports Centre Stadium on July 18, 2017 in Guangzhou, China. (Photo by Zhizhao Wu/Getty Images)

Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund has cancelled plans to tour Asia this summer due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Sport Bild reported club managing director Carsten Cramer said yesterday: “We are very sorry because we know how much the people over there were hoping we would come over to them.”

The club said it was looking at other options for a summer tour, and that the new destination “would be  100 per cent risk free for the participants”.

Tokyo 2020 torch-lighting ceremony

The Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) said crowds would be smaller, and receptions scrapped for the Tokyo 2020 torch-lighting ceremony in Olympia on March 12.

The dress rehearsal, which usually attracts crowds will be held without spectators, while accreditation have been cut to a bare minimum, with all receptions and lunches cancelled.

The torch lighting in Olympic kicks off the start of a relay that ends with the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on July 24.

The HOC said in a statement: “It was decided that every two days there will be analysis and study of data and considering the situation, starting on Thursday, a new meeting will be held to make decisions with regard to the Olympic Flame ceremonies.”

Vietnam Grand Prix

Quarantine periods by countries such as Vietnam, which hosts its first-ever Grand Prix on April 5, have raised concerns for Italian team Ferrari’s ability to participate.

Italy has been hit hard by the epidemic, with more than 50 deaths and over 2,000 confirmed cases. Vietnam has imposed two-week quarantine periods on anyone who has come from or been in Italy prior to entry.

Motorsport managing director Ross Brawn said yesterday to Reuters at a sponsorship signing with betting partner 188BET: “If a team is prevented from entering a country we can’t have a race. Not a Formula One world championship race, anyway, because that would be unfair.

“Obviously if a team makes its own choice not to go to a race, that’s their decision.

“But where a team is prevented from going to a race because of a decision of the country then it’s difficult to have a fair competition.”

Brawn said Formula One was in discussions with Vietnamese health authorities, adding: “They want the race to happen but also they’ve got to protect their population. So we’re looking at what solutions we can find to make sure everybody is comfortable with the arrangements.

“There’s a lot of things going on at the moment and it changes on a day-by-day basis. It’s difficult to be definitive now but we’re going to find solutions.”

With the Formula One season starting in Melbourne on March 15, the Australian authorities and F1 were cooperating on checks and measures, that include a charter to take Formula One’s Italian contingent directly from Melbourne to Bahrain, the next race host, without anyone leaving the plane during refuelling stopovers, and with screening upon arrival.  The F1 is trying to negotiate a similar arrangement with Vietnamese health authorities.

Brawn said:”It’s a very serious situation, so I don’t want to underplay it. But we’re trying to have races. We’ve got to do them in a responsible way.

“We’re minimizing the number of people in the paddock, we’re asking the teams to send a minimum number of people they need to a race.”


Addressing UEFA’s member associations at a Congress meeting in Amsterdam, Fifa president Gianni Infantino urged football authorities not to “panic”.

He said: “Some of you have had to take important decisions in this respect. Every competition organiser has to study it of course and has to take decisions.

“It is important to consider all the information from the authorities, but it’s also important not to panic.

“Those who have to take decisions, like happened in Switzerland, will take decisions and then be able to move forward.

“Someone said to me football can be an antidote to coronavirus. I wouldn’t go that far, but sometimes football is an antidote to many other illnesses like discrimination and racism, and this is a fight we need to fight all together.”

The Swiss Football Association suspended league matches until March 23, after the Swiss government banned public events of more than 1,000 people.

Dominique Blanc, the Swiss association president, asked at the Congress on dispensions to play fixtures on Champions League and Europa League dates if necessary, and if financial aid would be available to cover costs of cancellations, saying: “We are in a position that could shake professional football to its foundations.”

UEFA general secretary Theodore Theodoridis responded: “We have anticipated this, and yesterday we had a productive meeting with European Leagues regarding situations like this.

“We have established a working group to find the best possible solutions, and apply common sense. Whatever issue there is will be addressed.”

Cofidis cycling team

Roberto Damiani, the sporting director of the French professional cycling team Cofidis, has threatened to go on hunger strike yesterday if authorities do not allow his team to leave the United Arab Emirates.

He said to Reuters that despite being tested negative for the virus his team of 18 professional cyclists had been confined to their hotel since last Thursday.

UAE health authorities ordered the lockdown after two Italian members of the UAE tour the cyclists were competing in were suspected of contracting the coronavirus. The health ministry revealed yesterday that six new cases had been discovered after contact tracing was done for the two Italians.

Diamiani said: “We have done a second test on Sunday and we received the results on Monday, they were all negative for the virus. I hope I won’t have to start it (hunger strike)… We want to respect the country’s laws but respect should go both ways.”

A team member said: “Our rooms have not been cleaned since Thursday, they leave food outside the door for us… clean towels and soap have been stacked in the corridors next to the lifts.”

Other News

Global Rapid Rugby, a new rugby start-up league organised by Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest, will go ahead as planned in Perth, Australia on March 14, despite the coronavirus outbreak.

GRR chief exeuctive officer Mark Evans said: “The situation in China (from the coronavirus) and its effects elsewhere have meant the schedule has been amended a little.

“It is all systems go for Global Rapid Rugby in 2020.”

Last month, the China Lions were announced as the sixth and final team for the inaugural season of the $1 million competition.

But the coronavirus outbreak meant organisers have been forced to find an alternative home ground for the Lions this year.

The Lions, a team jointly supported by the China Rugby Football Association and New Zealand domestic outfit Bay of Plenty, will now play three home games in NZ and two in Australia.

They were originally scheduled to play three games in Shanghai and two in Rotorua.

The inaugural season will begin on March 14 with Fijian Latui hosting the China Lions under lights in Suva.

That will be followed by a double header at Perth’s HBF Park, where Manuma Samoa will play Hong Kong’s South China Tigers, before the Western Force take on the Malaysia Valke.

The Japan Para Wheelchair Rugby Championships, which had been due to take place between March 12 and 15 in Tokyo, has been called off by the Japan Para Sports Association. The championships were also to serve as a Paralympic Test Event ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Tokyo 2020 have said that they still intend to carry out the wheelchair rugby Test Event in some form in April, although this will not involve any teams travelling internationally.

Tokyo 2020 will consult with the International Paralympic Committee, International Wheelchair Rugby Federation, and other relevant organisations to determine the new schedule and the content of such tests by the end of March.

The Asia CrossFit Championship scheduled for May 8 to 10 in Shanghai, China has now officially been postponed. No new dates have been set for the newly sanctioned CrossFit event yet.

The National Basketball Association has sent a memo to teams outlining short-term measures aimed at protecting players from exposure to the coronavirus, including recommendations that players interacting with fans should bump fists rather than high-five. The league also advises players to avoid taking items such as pens, balls and jerseys to autograph.

Spanish football league La Liga said it will donate five tons of disinfectant to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, and also hosted an event for the Wuhan Zall football team, which arrived in Spain in January for preseason training but has not been able to return to China since.