Coronavirus latest: Shanghai GP “unlikely”, Asean Para Games postponed, Asian Badminton Championships, LPGA, and more

Max Verstappen of the Netherlands driving the (33) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB15 on track during the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit.(Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

Formula One managing director of motorsports Ross Brawn has said it is “unlikely” this year’s Shanghai Grand Prix will go ahead as scheduled on April 19 due to the coronavirus.

Brawn said the motor racing series cannot unilaterally cancel or postpone the race, under its contract with the local promoter, and that it was “waiting for the promoter and authorities to make the final decision, which I think they will.”

The Shanghai Sports Federation said last week saying it intends to “strictly implement the requirement that the municipal sports bureau no longer organise events during the epidemic” and advised organisers and rights-holders planning to host events in the city to “suspend all sports events until the epidemic is over”.

Formula One’s preparations for the race are continuing for now. “Sea freight is due to leave next week, but it wouldn’t be a disaster if the ship had to turn around,” Brawn told German newspaper Bild. “But in just under three weeks, the first employees go over and prepare the circuit. For us, this is the critical date on which we need feedback.”

He said he hoped for a delayed event “later in the year”, adding: “China is an enthusiastic, growing market so we’d like to have a race there.”

The inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix scheduled for April 3 to 5 is also under threat, after Vietnam halted all national and international sports events in the country this month. The Vietnam Grand Prix Corporation has said: “For now, we don’t anticipate any significant impact on our April event.”

Asean Para Games

The Philippines is to postpone the biennial Asean Para Games for a second time. Originally scheduled for January 18 to 24, the APG was moved to March 20 to 28 after the Philippine Sports Commission revealed it did not have enough funds to hold the event.

PPC president Michael Barredo told local media that he hopes the APG can take place in “May or June”.

The Philippine government has already banned all visitors from China, Hong Kong and Macau due to the coronavirus.

Asian Badminton Championships

China and Hong Kong have been excluded from the upcoming Asian Badminton Championships after tournament host the Philippines introduced travel bans covering mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

The championship is scheduled for February 11 to 16. It offers Olympic ranking points and is also a qualifier for the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup Finals. China will still qualify for both tournaments as among the three highest-ranked teams in the world.

The news comes days after the Badminton World Federation promised Chinese athletes that they would not be banned from tournaments.

India’s women’s team have also withdrawn from the tournament due to the outbreak. The Badminton Association of India said: “Unforeseen health hazard apprehension due to the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in withdrawal of the women’s team for the upcoming Badminton Asian Championships.

“Badminton Association of India (BAI) had reached out to the concerned authorities in Badminton Asia (BA) for assurances regarding the current situation and necessary health advisory and precautionary measures taken.

“After receiving complete assurances from BA, BAI had discussed the same with the Indian squad, the men’s team agreed to travel and confirmed their participation however, the women’s team was withdrawn owing to concerns showed by parents and players.”

Ladies Professional Golf Association

The LPGA has cancelled its Thailand tournament, which was scheduled to take place February 20 to 23 in Pattaya, as well as its Women’s World Championship, which was scheduled for Febuary 27 to March 1 in Singapore, due to the coronavirus spread in Asia.

The association said in a statement released on Monday: “It is always a difficult decision to cancel events and the LPGA greatly appreciates the understanding and all the efforts made by our title sponsors (Honda and HSBC) as well as IMG to host incredible events for our players.

“The health and safety of our players, fans and everyone working on the event is always our highest priority. While we are disappointed that these tournaments will not take place this season, we look forward to returning to Asia soon. ”

Nippon Professional Baseball

Baseball fans of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league have been asked to refrain from doing their traditional jet balloon celebrations. Popularised by fans of the Hanshin Tigers, the practice involves inflating long cylindrical balloons and releasing them en masse. A number of other clubs have copied the balloon releases, with the noise of the air rushing from balloons as they twist into the sky in the stadium making it a popular spectacle.

International Judo Federation

International Judo Federation president Marius Vizer chaired an emergency meeting of the IJF executive committee in Paris, after Chinese judoka were unable to participate in the Paris Grand Slam last weekend. Doubts over whether they can take part in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have arisen.

The Chinese Judo Federation were unable to obtain visas for the Paris Grand Slam as the French embassy in China was closed due to the coronavirus outbreak. This meant Chinese judoka missed out on the opportunity to gain valuable ranking points to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

Vizer said: “Since the beginning (of the coronavirus outbreak) we are developing the matter with Chinese Judo Federation and the event organisers.

“In Paris, the Chinese delegation can’t participate because of visa issues and it’s set to be the same for the Grand Slam in Germany later this month.

“We are in discussions and even negotiations with the International Olympic Committee on how to find a solution to show solidarity, humanity and support to our Chinese colleagues and to protect the IJF community…

“We will soon see the results of our negotiations and we are on the way to propose a quota of participation for Chinese athletes who are qualified at the moment and one or two who have the chance to qualify. We try to request a greater quota from the IOC for China, not to affect our Olympic quota, but in order to protect our judoka and community for the next series of events.

“We made the first proposal to the IOC regarding solutions how to solve this issue for judo and other sports.

“For those who are qualified, they would not be required to attend any more events, there are those who are on qualification positions but still need to officially qualify and there are those who are in contention to qualify and require more points.”

China won two bronze judo medals at the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Tottenham Hotspur

English Premier League and England football star Dele Alli apologised after appearing to mock an Asian man and joke about the coronavirus outbreak on his Snapchat account. He posted a video of himself wearing a facemask at an airport departure lounge on Saturday with the message “Corona whattt, please listen with volume.” The video then zooms towards an Asian man, then pans to a bottle of antiseptic hand wash with the caption: “This virus gunna have to be quicker than that to catch me.”

The video was deleted after several complaints were made, and Alli issued a statement on Sunday evening saying he had “let himself and the club (Tottenham) down.”

“I’d like to apologise for the video I posted on Snapchat yesterday,” Alli said in a video released on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.

“It wasn’t funny. I realised that immediately and took it down. I let myself down and the club. I don’t want you guys to have that impression of me.

“It isn’t something that should be joked about. Sending all my love and thoughts and prayers for everyone in China.”

Fiba Asian Cup

An International Basketball Federation Asian Cup qualifying match between China and Malaysia has been postponed. The match, which was to be held in China on February 24, was rescheduled. China’s away match against Japan will take place as scheduled on February 21.

Ireland Women’s Hockey Team

The Irish women’s hockey team has cancelled a warm-weather training trip to Malaysia, due to the spread of coronavirus in the country. The trip, planned from mid-March to early April, was cancelled after the total number of people infected in India rose to 15.

Li Na

Retired Chinese tennis star Li Na has topped the list of contributions from individual athletes for donations to aid the fight against the coronavirus epidemic in China, after making a RMB3m ($430,000/€390,000) contribution to provide medical materials to designated hospitals in Wuhan. Li, a Wuhan native, made the donation through a charity foundation in Beijing.