Coronavirus puts more sports events in China under question

China’s General Administration of Sport has instructed the country’s sports associations to consider cancelling upcoming events as far as April in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the country, according to local media reports.

Yesterday, the Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Sports of the People’s Republic of China (CAMF) issued a statement saying: “As part of efforts to prevent and control the outbreak of a new type of coronavirus, in accordance with the instruction from the General Administration of Sport ‘On Suspending All Sports Competitions Until April’, the organizing committee has decided to temporarily cancel a car rally in Changbaishan, scheduled for February 12 to 14.”

The notice was taken down later in the day, but local media reports said the GAS has told all associations to report on their upcoming tournaments and decide whether to postpone or cancel them.

Formula E’s Chinese fixture, which is held on the island of Hainan in Sanya, is scheduled for March 21. According to a Formula E spokesperson quoted by Motorsportweek, the race is currently going ahead as planned: “As it stands, the race in Sanya on March 21 is still scheduled to go ahead as planned. The uncertainty stemmed from an incorrect statement issued locally in China, which published wrong and misleading information and has since been removed.

“Given the current health concerns, we are continuing to closely monitor the situation as it develops on a daily basis.

“We have requested that our regional partner works together with the local motorsport federation, to liaise with the relevant authorities in Hainan province to further analyse and assess the situation, and provide recommendations on preparations for the race.”

Other major sports events that fall in the period and could be affected include the Chinese Super League, which is to kick off on February 22, the football Super Cup fixture between Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai Shenhua on February 5,  the AFC Champion League qualifier involving CSL side Shanghai SIPG and Thai League 1 side Buriram United on the January 28, and a Fifa World Cup 2022 qualifier between China and the Maldives on March 26.

The Hong Kong Football Association cancelled this Sunday’s Lunar New Year Cup football game in a last-minute decision. The Cup was to be held at Mong Kok Stadium, with a Hong Kong team taking on a League Selection XI, as well as a women’s match between the Hong Kong team and a youth squad.

HKFA chairman Pui Kwan-kay said: “The government is concerned that many fans may want to attend the event on Sunday which may cause potential risk. After deliberation we decided it would be better to call off the competition.”

Last year, three overseas teams were invited for the tournament, which included Sagan Tosu of Japan, Auckland City of New Zealand and CSL side Shandong Luneng. This year, social unrest in Hong Kong meant no foreign teams were to participate, forcing the HKFA to use local teams only.

The coronavirus outbreak has already forced Tokyo 2020 qualifying events in boxing and women’s football scheduled for next month in Wuhan, China to be moved from the quarantined city.

Wuhan was to host teams from China, Chinese Taipei/Taiwan, Thailand and Australia in Asian women’s football qualifiers from February 3 to 9. The Asia/Oceania boxing qualifiers were to take place from February 3 to 14.