Four Italian Serie A football matches were postponed at the weekend after an outbreak of coronavirus cases in the north of the country.
The Italian government sealed off towns and banned public gatherings in the Lombardy and Veneto regions after the number of infected cases jumped to 132.
The affected football fixtures were Torino v Parma in Turin, Inter Milan v Sampdoria in Milan, Atalanta v Sassuolo in Bergamo, and Hellas Verona v Cagliari in Verona.
Agence France-Presse reported that Inter Milan’s home Uefa Europa League match against Ludogorets on Thursday is in doubt. AC Milan also postponed its women’s team match against Fiorentina at the weekend, and lower-division, amateur and youth matches have also been cancelled.
A meeting of the organisers of the Milan-Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics scheduled for Monday in Milan is to take place using video instead of in-person.
This year’s Asean Para Games has been postponed indefinitely. The event had already been postponed from January 18-24 to March 20-28 due to financial and logistical issues in host nation the Philippines. Vietnamese news agency Voice of Vietnam reported that the country’s paralympic association had confirmed the postponement of the event.
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike dismissed as ‘inappropriate’ a suggestion by Shaun Bailey, a candidate for the role of mayor of London, that the British city could take over this year’s Olympics. Meanwhile, Tokyo postponed training for volunteers, and Tokyo 2020 president Yoshirō Mori told a Japanese newspaper that he is praying every day that the coronavirus will go away and that we would not be wearing a face mask until ‘the end’.
Japanese Emperor Naruhito, in his first speech since ascending to the throne last May, expressed concern about the coronavirus, but said he was looking forward to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. He recalled seeing the 1964 closing ceremony where: “the athletes didn’t march in all their separate countries’ teams but all together, and in such good humour. That could be the basis of my unchanging and long-held, earnest hope for world peace.”
The Straits Times reported that the World Team Table Tennis Championships in Busan, Korea, on March 22-29 is in doubt, with the International Table Tennis Federation holding an emergency meeting about the event at the weekend.
The World Modern Pentathlon Championships has been moved from Xiamen in China to Cancun in Mexico, taking place on May 25-31. Xiamen will now host the 2022 edition of the event.
The China Anti-Doping Agency will resume testing of its athletes this week after a suspension due to the epidemic. The World Anti-Doping Agency said on Friday that testing would be gradually restarted, focusing first on “higher-risk categories and sports”.
United World Wrestling’s Asian Olympic Qualifiers have been moved from Xi’an in China to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to take place on March 27-29. Chinese athletes eligible for the event are currently under quarantine in Serbia, where they will also train.
Shanghai’s event on the Archery World Cup calendar has been moved to later in the year. Instead of hosting an event in May, the city will now host the World Cup Final in the autumn. A new host for the May stage is to be announced soon by World Archery.
The Asian Football Confederation and Fifa approved China PR’s request to play its upcoming home 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers at neutral venues. China will play its home matches against Maldives on March 26 and against Guam on March 31 at the Chang Arena, Buriram in Thailand.
The China PR v Korea Republic second leg of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Tokyo 2020 Asian Qualifiers Final Round Playoff scheduled for March 11 has been confirmed for the Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney, Australia.
Japan is hosting 50 members of the Chinese national table tennis team who are unable to return home due to the epidemic. The Japan Table Tennis Association is to take the players to a training base near Toyko, following the March 22-29 team World Championships in Busan, South Korea – an event which is also in doubt. Kyodo News reported that a JTTA official said: “They’re our rivals but they’re also friends, not enemies. We want to help when times are difficult”.
North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon. The race has in recent years attracted curious foreigners with a rare chance to visit the isolated nation. Almost 1,000 Westerners took part last year, paying entry fees of up to $150. The Straits Times reported that, to protect itself from the virus, North Korea has suspended flights and trains, banned tourists, and imposed 30 days of quarantine on resident foreigners.
South Africa withdrew from an U23 football friendly against Japan, due to be played on March 27 in Kyoto.
The Chinese Olympic Swimming Trials and National Championships have been postponed from March 28-April 4, to May 10-16.
Chinese badminton players have been cleared to play in three tournaments in Europe next week, that are vital for Tokyo 2020 qualification. The Japan Times reported that the Chinese Badminton Association said “no one is infected” and that the team would compete at next week’s German Open, All England Open, and Swiss Open.
Chinese former rowing world champion Pei Jiayun lost her husband, also a rower, to the coronavirus. Pei, the 1993 world champion, is in quarantine in Wuhan. Her son and mother-in-law have been diagnosed with the disease but are recovering.