The International Tennis Federation’s Fed Cup and the International Skating Union’s imminent World Figure Skating Championships have become the latest sporting events to be postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The ITF announced today (Thursday) that next month’s Fed Cup finals, which were due to be held in Budapest, have been placed on hold after the Hungarian authorities banned public gathering of more than 100 people indoors.
The Fed Cup is the second major tennis event to fall victim to the virus after the Indian Wells tournament was cancelled. The BBC reports the WTA and ATP tours are now on the verge of being completely shut down because of pressure from players.
“After careful consideration and close discussion with the ITF Board, the Local Organising Committee, and in light of today’s announcement by the Hungarian government regarding indoor events, it is with regret that the ITF has announced the postponement of the Fed Cup Finals, originally scheduled to take place 14-19 April at the Laszlo Papp Sport Arena in Budapest,” a statement from the ITF said.
The tennis federation said it remained committed to delivering the event in 2020 and is consultation with stakeholder such as the Hungarian Government, the Hungarian Tennis Association (HTA) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) to find a suitable alternative date for the tournament.
ISU World Figure Skating Championships
The ISU said similar concerns had forced it to ‘cancel’ the imminent ISU World Figure Skating Championships which were due to take place in Montreal from 16-22 March.
A statement on the federation’s website indicated the government of Quebec had stepped in to call for the cancellation and that it would be difficult to relocate the event to another date in the skating season, which ends in April.
However, the ISU went on to suggest it might be possible to hold the event after October this year.
“Considering the current uncertain developments surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, a rescheduling and/or relocation of the above-mentioned Championships within the current season, even if the season would be extended by several weeks after its normal end in early April, cannot be reasonably considered,” said the statement.
“During the coming weeks, the ISU will evaluate in cooperation with all stakeholders whether the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2020 could possibly be held later in the year, but in any case not before October 2020.”
Also in a statement this morning (Thursday) Formula E announced it has taken the decision to officially postpone June’s Jakarta E-Prix upon instruction from the city authorities.
The Jakarta race becomes the third E-Prix to be postponed in the electric championship calendar along with the delayed Rome and Sanya events.
“With the growing number of COVID-19 cases in countries where Formula E currently has events scheduled to be held, we are evaluating contingency plans to lessen the potential impact of coronavirus and maintain the highest possible number of races on the calendar for season six,” said Alberto Longo, co-founder of Formula E.
“It is a fluid situation, developing on a daily basis and we remain realistic and flexible in our approach to alternative options, which will be communicated in due course.”
IPL decision on Saturday
In India, the government has ordered upcoming international cricket matches to be played in empty stadiums and the organisers of the Indian Premier League will meet on Saturday to “discuss all possibilities” for the tournament.
Travel operators are warning the country could impose a complete travel ban – in spite of the fact that it has reported few cases of the coronavirus – because its healthcare system may be unable to cope with an outbreak.
Yesterday (Wednesday) New Delhi said it would cancel almost all visas issued to travel to the country to prevent the spread of the virus.
Sales of tickets for Indian Premier League matches in the state of Maharashtra, the home of the Mumbai Indians have also been halted. The team are due to host Chennai Super Kings in the season-opener on March 29.
Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said the state had decided to allow matches to go ahead without spectators, rather than cancelling.
The state of Karnataka, home to the Royal Challengers Bangalore, has requested guidance from the Indian government as to whether to allow matches to go ahead.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Cricket Board said matches in the Pakistan Super League Twenty20 tournament in Karachi on March 12 to 17 could go ahead as planned, despite the number of coronavirus cases in the surrounding Sindh province climbing to 15.
The PCB said: “As it is always the case, the PCB is guided by the Sindh government in such matters. In this background, we are satisfied with the feedback the Sindh government has provided and the support it has assured.
“At the same time, the PCB has promised the Sindh government that it will work very closely with its commercial partner and support wherever it can to assist in the health and safety of the spectators.”
Spectators at the games have been urged to avoid hugging and shaking hands, and to use soap and hand sanitisers inside the stadium.
Fiba events suspended, Euroleague decision expected
A statement on the Fiba website indicated the world governing body for basketball had also taken to suspend all events, as of Friday March 13.
“Considering the current situation with the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and in order to protect the health and safety of players, coaches, officials and fans, Fiba today [Thursday] has announced that all Fiba competitions are suspended as of tomorrow, Friday, 13 March 2020,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Euroleague Basketball said it was consulting with teams and would communicate a decision later today about whether it would suspend the top-tier club basketball competition.
“Following last night’s declaration by the World Health Organization that the COVID-19 virus is now a pandemic, Euroleague Basketball has initiated a consultation with its clubs to temporarily suspend its competitions (Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, 7DAYS EuroCup, Euroleague Basketball Adidas Next Generation Tournament),” the statement said.
Coupe de la Ligue
France’s professional football league (LFP) said it had taken the decision to postpone the final of the Coupe de la Ligue between Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon scheduled for April 4 following the decision by the French government to ban gatherings of more than 1,000 people until April 15.
The 2020 final would have been the last ever iteration of the competition after the LFP voted to suspend the competition indefinitely to reduce the season schedule.
Earlier today, SportBusiness reported that the National Basketball Association is suspending its 2019-20 season indefinitely following games on March 11, after a player on the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus.