Coronavirus latest: Euro 2020 postponement report, Olympics support ebbs in Japan, June may be too soon for ITTF

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

Uefa has already decided to postpone the Euro 2020 championship, the Financial Times has reported.

The newspaper cited sources saying the decision was being made to help Europe’s leagues finish their domestic seasons. The tournament is scheduled to take place from June 12 to July 12.

Uefa is meeting today to discuss the matter.

The remainder of the entire European football season is in doubt, including all leagues and the Uefa Champions League and Europa League competitions.

Agence France-Presse quoted a ‘senior figure in world football’ as saying: “Uefa has no choice. They have to postpone the Euros and the Champions League.” Another said: “The financial stakes are enormous. We know that Fifa has significant reserves but we don’t know about Uefa or the different leagues.”

Euro 2020 already looked in jeopardy ahead of today’s Uefa meeting. The Italian Football Federation said yesterday it would propose a postponement at the meeting. “There are people who want to play, and others who don’t,” French football federation president Noel Le Graet told French broadcaster TF1.

German broadcaster ZDF reported that two options are on the table for the tournament. One is to postpone it until 2021 and the other is to play it later this year. The former option is complicated by the fact it would require Fifa to alter plans for its inaugural Club World Cup, scheduled for next June and July in China. The women’s and Under-21 men’s European Championships are also currently scheduled around the same time next year.

Japanese poll suggests declining support for Olympics

Public opinion in Japan is starting to turn against the Tokyo 2020 Olympics going ahead as planned, Agence France-Presse has reported.

The news agency said a poll by public-service broadcaster NHK on March 6-9 suggested 45 per cent of people were against the Olympics going ahead as planned, and 40 per cent in favour.

Meanwhile, Tokyo 2020 organisers have scaled back parts of the torch relay. Organising committee CEO Toshiro Mutare said people would be encouraged not to watch the relay from the roadside, for this month at least. The relay is to start on March 26.

Kyodo News reported that Muto said: “We will make a concrete announcement under our policy of requesting people to refrain (from coming). It will be important to say it in a way that is easy for people to understand.”

The ‘Flame of Recovery’ tour that is to take the torch through areas of Japan most affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has also been scaled down. Organisers said “the main displays of the Olympic Flame will be staged largely as planned”, but a welcoming event involving children and various other ceremonies planned for the tour have been cancelled.

The torch relay in Greece has already been cut short and the Olympic flame handover ceremony in Athens this week is taking place behind closed doors, with only a handful of torch bearers, officials and performers present. The ceremony usually attracts thousands of spectators to the Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium, site of the first modern Olympics in 1896.

Organiser the Hellenic Olympic Committee said: “The Handover Ceremony will take place in the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic… and of a small delegation of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee.

“There will be a dance of the priestesses that will not exceed the number of 10, and a torch relay of two Greek torchbearers and two Japanese torchbearers, that will take place inside the Panathenaic Stadium.”

The changes to the torch relay are a disappointing blow for the organisers. Japan’s recovery from the devastation of 2011 is to be one of the major themes of the Olympics for the country, and the torch relay is highly symbolic of it.

Meanwhile, John Coates, chairman of the IOC’s Tokyo 2020 coordination commission, is to be quarantined upon his return to Australia from IOC meetings in Lausanne this week. Australia is demanding that all travellers entering the country self-isolate for 14 days.

Late June may be too soon for ITTF championships

The International Table Tennis Federation is considering pushing back its 2020 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Busan, South Korea, from June 21-28 until the end of the year.

The event had already been postponed from March 22-29.

The decision was announced following an emergency ITTF meeting yesterday to discuss the impact of the epidemic. After the meeting, it was also confirmed that:

  • all ITTF events and activities are suspended until the end of April
  • the ITTF is considering options for amending its qualifying pathway for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, given that qualifying events in April have been cancelled. Ideas will be discussed with Continental Federations, the ITTF Athletes Commission and then proposed to the International Olympic Committee. Options include adding Continental Events to the World Singles Qualification Event or another event closer to the Olympic Games, or using the World Ranking at a date to be decided.

Olympic boxing qualifiers halted

The European, Americas and final qualifying tournaments for boxing at Tokyo 2020 Olympics have been suspended.

The 10-day European event was on its third day of competition at London’s Copper Box arena. The Americas event was scheduled for Buenos Aires on March 26 to April 3. The finals were due for Paris on May 13-20. The Asia and Oceania qualifier was held in Amman, Jordan this month, after being moved from Wuhan, China. The Africa qualifier has also already taken place.

The IOC said in a statement: “The BTF…took the decision to suspend the event today, amid increasing global travel restrictions and quarantine measures, in order to allow the participants from over 60 countries to adjust their travel plans and return home.

“The BTF will continue to evaluate the situation daily, aiming to complete the distribution of the remaining Tokyo 2020 boxing quota places in May and June.

“The BTF’s priority remains the qualification of athletes on the field of play, and it will inform all stakeholders as soon as more information is available.”

The events are being organised by the Boxing Task Force, a team created by the International Olympic Committee after its suspension last year of world governing body AIBA.

Other news

Russia’s government cancelled all international and mass participation sports events in the country, and recommended all domestic sports events follow suit.

Cricket South Africa has cancelled matches at all levels in the country for 60 days.

Bangladesh’s cricket tour of Pakistan, currently underway and due to run until April 9, has been halted indefinitely.

The Pakistan Cricket Board has postponed its regional Pakistan Cup one day competition, which was scheduled to start on March 24.

Vietnam’s professional football leagues have been halted until at least the end of March. The stop covers the top two divisions, V.League 1 and 2.

The Asean Basketball League has suspended its 2020 season indefinitely. The league had already stopped playing after its first game on February 23. It was exploring options to continue the season, but has now abandoned it.

The Indonesian Basketball League has suspended its 2020 season. Full refunds will be provided for any tickets already purchased.

The Asian Skateboarding Championship, due to take place in Singapore from today until March 21, has been cancelled. Governing body World Skate said the decision was made due to the travel restrictions being imposed due to the epidemic.