Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

How sport is bracing itself for Covid-19

Posted on 6 March 2020 by Sarah Glenton
Atalanta fans having their temperatures taken before their Serie A game against Lecce. Photo credit Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

The outbreak of Covid-19, first reported in China in late December 2019, has  now spread to an estimated 85 countries across the world.

With a mortality rate of 3.4%, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a large focus is being placed on preventing the coronavirus from spreading in large groups of people.

In the year in which Japan is due to host the Summer Olympics sports all over the globe are taking measures to protect public health.

From banning handshakes to playing matches behind closed doors, here are all of ways in which sport is bracing itself for Covid-19.


The Premier League have banned pre-match handshakes until further notice, and according to Everton’s Chief Financial Officer Sasha Ryazantsev matches may be played behind closed doors.

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Matches will be played behind closed doors indefinitely in Morocco and until 3rd April in Italy. The latter has ordered all sporting matches to be played without crowds.

The Swiss Football League will not be played again until 23rd March following a meeting between the teams, while Valencia’s round-of-16 Champions League tie against Atalanta on 10th March will be played behind closed doors .

Elsewhere, International Champions Cup matches due to take place in Asia in the summer have been cancelled.


Following the postponed Six Nations matches between Ireland and Italy in February, England’s matches against Italy, due to be played on 14th-15th March, have also been postponed.

In Rugby Sevens, the Hong Kong and Singapore legs of the tournament have been postponed from April until October.

Some test events for the Tokyo Olympics have also been cancelled, including the Japan Para Wheelchair Rugby Championships and Asia Sevens Invitational, originally scheduled for March and April respectively.


The opening two MotoGPs of the season in Qatar on 8th March and in Thailand on 22nd March have been cancelled.

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This season’s second World Superbikes Race, due to take place in Qatar from 13th-15th March has also been cancelled.


Six tournaments in the ATP’s Challenger Tour have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak: three events in South Korea have been postponed until August, while two other events in China and Uzbekistan have been cancelled.

The WTA’s Kunming Open was due to be played in Anning, China from 27th April-3rd May, but has been cancelled due to the scale of the coronavirus outbreak in China.


Italy’s Strade Bianche event was due to take place on 7th March but has now been cancelled, while teams Mitchelton-Scott and Astana have withdrawn from the upcoming European races in Italy. 

UAE Tour riders and staff from Cofidis, Groupama-FDJ and Gazprom will be quarantined until 14th March after two Italain riders tested positive for Covid-19 in late February.

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Other notable events

In Badminton, the Asia Championships which take place from 21st-26th April have been moved to the Philippines, having been held in Wuhan, China for the previous five years.

The inaugural Basketball Africa League was due to kick off in Dakar, Senegal on 13th March, but this has now been postponed.

The Rome Marathon was scheduled for 29th March but has been cancelled, with all 2020 entries remaining valid for 2021. Meanwhile, the Paris Marathon has been moved from 5th April to 18th October.


Feautured image/Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images