The Formula 1 Australian and Chinese Grands Prix joined the list of canceled or postponed events on Tuesday as the coronavirus pandemic hit the sports world again.
AFP Sport looks at the events impacted by Covid-19 months before the Olympic Games and the European football championships already rescheduled:
– The season opening Melbourne Grand Prix was delayed from March to November on Tuesday, but no new date has been given for Shanghai. The record-breaking 23-race campaign will now begin in Bahrain on March 28, a week later than the originally scheduled start.
– On Monday, the European Champions and Challenge Cups were suspended after the French government said the Covid-19 variant in Britain made it too risky for Top 14 teams to face clubs from the UK . There are now concerns about the Six Nations tournament, which is set to kick off on February 6.
– Five matches in English football’s first division have been postponed in the past two months due to coronavirus outbreaks among the teams.
The Premier League said on Monday that 36 players and staff had tested positive for the coronavirus in the past week, a slight drop from the record 40 cases in the previous seven days.
Last week Newcastle coach Steve Bruce – who has suffered a coronavirus outbreak in his squad – became the first Premier League boss to question football’s morality if players and staff are under threat.
– Preparations for the Australian Open in Melbourne have been severely disrupted by the coronavirus epidemic, with the tournament start date being pushed back three weeks to February 8.
Players face the threat of penalties, including hefty fines, spending extra time in quarantine or expulsion, if they violate strict Covid-19 protocols when they arrive this week for the first Grand Slam of the ‘year.
NBA / NFL / NHL
– The 2020-21 season is only three weeks old but the NBA has already seen dozens of cases among teams and coaches and games have been postponed. The last season ended by bringing together all the teams still in contention in a “bubble” in Florida. This season, the teams play in their own arenas.
– The NFL season reached the playoffs after a regular season punctuated by the closure of training facilities at some franchises and a series of positive tests for Covid-19.
– The season in the NHL has been reduced from 82 games per franchise to 56 and is set to run through May 8 in home arenas with a playoff to follow in July, giving hope for a return to a normal start in October for the 2021-22 season. The seven Canadian teams are in their own division with new distributions of eight teams in three American-only divisions.
Concerns surround the Olympics
– On Tuesday, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto dismissed a Japanese media report claiming that the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organizers will debate the fate of the Games in February as “fake news.” The Games, already postponed by a year, are expected to begin on July 23.
– The prestigious World Cup event in Wengen, Switzerland, scheduled for this weekend, has been called off due to the increase in Covid-19 cases in the region.
© 2021 AFP