The Six Nations’ Italy v Ireland has already had to be postponed
This week the Six Nations match between Italy and Ireland was postponed as a precaution after the Coronavirus outbreak.
The last occasion a similar situation happened was back in 2001, when foot and mouth disease saw Ireland play its final three tests in the autumn – meaning the tournament took eight months to complete.
This time round there is yet to be a date confirmed for a rearranged fixture, and there are still question marks over England’s planned match against Italy on the final weekend.
How else could the sporting calendar, and thus broadcasters, be affected?
Domestic matches in Italy, the location of the largest European outbreak, have already been affected. A government decree has seen matches in six regions be played behind closed doors, and several Serie A games have been postponed.
Inter Milan’s Europa League match against Bulgarian side Ludogorets is also to be played without fans in attendance. There could be more solutions like this, which allow broadcasters and organisers to keep their plans while lessening health risks.
Meanwhile, Euro 2020 – which is planned to take place in countries across the whole continent – is currently going ahead. However, UEFA is monitoring the situation.
Executive committee member Michele Uva told Italian broadcaster Rai: “We are at the waiting stage. We are monitoring country by country, and football must follow the orders of the individual countries. The sporting path will only be closed if the situation gets worse.”
Tokyo 2020 Olympics
The organisers of the Tokyo Olympics are still monitoring the situation, with its proximity to the epicentre of the crisis a worry. The pre-games torch relay planned to take place from 27 March has already been scaled back.
A spokesperson has said: “Preparations for the Games are continuing as planned.”
There are very few options for the IOC if the situation doesn’t improve, with it unlikely another city could take over to host at such late notice. Rescheduling would also be difficult due to clashes with other events. This would be a particular worry for broadcasters with their schedules currently planned to contain the Olympics for large periods in the summer.
Japan has already taken action with other sports – the Tokyo marathon is now only for elite athletes and the J-League postponed until the middle of March.
The Chinese Grand Prix on 19 April has already been postponed, while the Vietnam race on 5 April is currently going ahead. Chief executive Chase Carey said: “The Vietnam Grand Prix will take place on 5 April in Hanoi. And to anticipate another question, we do plan to proceed with the race.”
The grand tour cycling event, planned to start in Budapest on 9 May and end in Milan on 31 May, is currently up in the air.
Cycling governing body UCI has said it is monitoring the situation but says: “It is not currently possible to predict in the medium term whether competitions in this country will be maintained or cancelled, given the rapidity with which new outbreaks are declared, like yesterday in Tuscany, Sicily and Liguria.”
Cheltenham Festival and Grand National meeting
Both horse racing events are currently going ahead, although an industry steering group has been created to monitor the situation. The group includes representatives of the British Horseracing Authority, racecourses, and horsemen – reports The Guardian.