coronavirus wreaks sporting havoc | Daily News


 

coronavirus wreaks sporting havoc

LONDON, Friday - Golf’s jewel in the crown The Masters and England’s top-flight soccer league joined the ever-lengthening list of elite sporting events to fall foul of the coronavirus pandemic on Friday.

Few dates on the global sporting calendar are as keenly-anticipated as the Augusta National showpiece, but organisers have moved swiftly to postpone golf’s opening major which was due to be played between April 9-12.

England’s hugely-popular Premier League announced it was suspending matches until April 4, while soccer’s European governing body UEFA said that next week’s matches in the Champions League and Europa League would not be played.

The unprecedented shutdown of world sport in response to the coronavirus spread that has infected more than 134,000 people and killed around 5,000 also prompted organisers to postpone the Formula One motor races in Vietnam and Bahrain.

This weekend’s season opener in Australia was cancelled only hours before the first practice session. England cricket players were heading home after their tour of Sri Lanka was called off on Friday, while this weekend’s Six Nations rugby match between Wales and Scotland also succumbed.

France’s Top 14, the richest rugby union league in the world, was also suspended on Friday.

In cycling, organisers of the Giro d’Italia said the race, due to start in Budapest on May 9, had been postponed. After two days of shutdowns and cancellations the sporting cupboard for thenext two months looks bare.

On Thursday, the big American sports leagues — NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball — were all suspended, the ATP men’s tennis tour was shut down and golf’s Players Championship was abandoned after one round.

The postponement of the Masters, won in fairytale fashion by Tiger Woods last year, sent shockwaves through golf although with the PGA Tour suspended until April 5 it was not a surprise.

“Unfortunately, the ever-increasing risks associated with the widespread Coronavirus COVID-19 have led us to a decision that undoubtedly will be disappointing to many, although I am confident is appropriate under these unique circumstances,” Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley said in a statement.

“We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date.” Nearly 2,000 people have been infected across the U.S.

Britain’s government on Thursday stopped short of banning mass gatherings of people — but that decision was quickly overtaken by events as the country’s soccer leagues reacted to the fast-moving situation by putting the season on hold. afp


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