Coronavirus latest: MotoGP Qatar cancelled, Infantino on Euro threat, Bach cools Tokyo speculation, and more

Motorcycle racing championship MotoGP has cancelled its season-opening race in Qatar that was due for March 8.

Passengers arriving in Doha from Italy, or who had been in Italy in the last two weeks, face a minimum 14-day quarantine. Many MotoGP teams, riders and staff hail from Italy.

The series’ Moto2 and Moto3 races in Qatar will go ahead as planned next weekend because the teams and riders have been in the country since last week.

Italy’s Gazzetto dello Sport newspaper reported that the second MotoGP race of the season, in Thailand on March 22, was also under threat. Last week, the Thai government said it would go ahead as planned.

Infantino ‘hopeful’ for Euro 2020

Fifa president Gianni Infantino admitted that international football matches scheduled for the last week of March could be postponed, and said he was ‘hopeful’ that this year’s Euro and Olympics tournaments would go ahead as planned, according to Reuters.

The March international fixtures include Euro 2020 playoffs and friendlies. Referring to the potential for them to be postponed, he said: “I wouldn’t exclude anything at this moment. I hope we will never have to get into this direction. I think it will be difficult in any case to make a global ban because the situation (in each country) is really different.”

Euro 2020 is due to start on June 12. Infantino said: “I think the Euros will take place in June. Before that we have many matches at international level with lots of travelling involved as well so I think we have to monitor the situation and those in charge, the government, the institutions they also take decisions on what is allowed and what isn’t.

“We don’t have to panic. I am not personally worried as well. But we have to look at it seriously. We can’t underestimate and say it’s nothing but we don’t have to overreact and panic. We have to follow the instructions given by the authorities.”

Infantino also said matches behind closed doors, without spectators could only ever be a short-term solution: “You cannot imagine a few months of a competition with several matches played behind closed doors.”

Bach cools cancellation talk

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach sought to cool speculation that Tokyo 2020 will be cancelled in an interview with Japanese media late last week.

Kyodo News reported that Bach said the IOC “is fully committed to a successful Olympic Games in Tokyo starting July 24.” When pressed by journalists about suggestions last week by IOC member Dick Pound that there is a three-month window to decide whether the Games to ahead, Bach said: “I’ll not add fuel to the flames of speculation.”

Bach said the IOC’s current priorities were on making sure Tokyo 2020 happens as planned. “(The priority) is to ensure the qualification procedure and protecting the safety of athletes at the same time. This is what we’re doing in cooperation with the Japanese authorities, the World Health Organisation, the Chinese Olympic Committee and many NOCS,” he said.

“For the IOC, it’s true what we’ve been saying all the time that the preparations for Tokyo 2020 are continuing with a view to having a successful Olympic Games this summer in Tokyo.”

BWF creates coronavirus FAQ

The Badminton World Federation published on its website a series of Frequently Asked Questions about the impact of the coronavirus on the sport. The FAQ addresses questions such as where players, officials and member associations should seek out information; what administrative effects arise when tournaments are postponed or cancelled; and what tournaments have been postponed and cancelled so far.

The federation also said it currently had no plans to adjust regulations relating to Olympic qualification, despite the cancellation of tournaments that were due to count towards qualification.

The federation said: “Any change to the existing Olympic qualification rules will affect different players both positively or negatively, and with the present level of postponement and cancellation, BWF does not believe that making changes is appropriate.

“The postponement or cancellation of tournaments is not within the control of hosts, BWF or the badminton community, but is caused by ongoing developments as a result of COVID-19 in different areas of the world and decisions will be taken based on information provided by public health authorities.”

Other news:

International Champions Cup organisers Relevent Sports Group confirmed that the event will not take place in Asia this summer. The tournament, which features top European teams and world-class footballers, could still proceed in the United States.

All Thai football league matches are being played behind closed doors, without spectators, throughout March.

Vietnamese football’s V.League 1 played its opening round of fixtures for its 2020 season at the weekend without spectators. This included the curtain-raising National Super Cup games between V.League 1 champions Hà Nội FC and National Cup runners-up HCM City.

The Japanese Table Tennis Association’s plan to host the Chinese team in a training base near Tokyo has broken down, after the Japanese government stepped up the country’s response to the outbreak. Kyodo News reported that a JTTA official said the organisation had not completely given up on the plan.

The Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido, home of Sapporo, the host city for Tokyo 2020 marathon and race walking events, declared a state of emergency, and asked residents to stay indoors at the weeend.

The Kyrgyzstan government has cancelled the country’s plan to host the 2020 Asian Olympic wrestling qualifier in capital city Bishkek on March 27-29. The government notified world governing body United World Wrestling. Bishkek was to take over the event from original host Xi’an in China. UWW said it is now looking at other solutions.

The 2020 International Triathlon Union World Triathlon Abu Dhabi event has been postponed. The event was due to take place on March 5-7 on Yas Island. Several coronavirus cases have been reported in Abu Dhabi in the last few days.

The World Anti-Doping Agency cancelled its annual symposium in Lausanne next month. It was due to take place on March 17 and 18. Switzerland has banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people until at least March 15 because of the epidemic.

The UAE Tour cycle race cancelled its remaining stages last week, two days before it was due to finish, after two members of one of the competing teams tested positive for the coronavirus. Several teams have now left the country but some remain in quarantine there, as local health authorities conduct tests.