With coronavirus now officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, sports across the world are scrambling to figure out their next steps.
Many codes have chosen to continue their seasons but without fans in attendance, while the NBA became the latest major sport to suspend all games on Thursday.
Here’s the latest on where global sporting organisations and leagues, plus the Olympics, sit.
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The AFL season will proceed as planned, for now.
With Round 1 a week away (March 19), clubs are putting safety measures in place to protect employees, isolating their football departments and keeping players away from fans at season launch events.
Melbourne has relocated its men’s team to Casey Fields, where its VFL team trains, while the women’s team continues to work out of AAMI Park.
Collingwood cancelled an open training session set for Friday while teams travelling interstate in Round 1 are looking into chartering private flights.
AFL umpires have been told not to train in groups, while the league is willing to play in front of empty stadiums if required.
Fremantle player Sam Switkowski was tested for coronavirus after coming in contact with a friend who had previously self-isolated, but he came back negative.
Last week the AFL relocated its yearly Shanghai game to Melbourne, with St Kilda to host Port Adelaide in Round 12 rather than Round 11 as originally planned.
The NRL season will kick off tonight (March 12) as planned.
A crowd of over 24,000 is still expected to attend the season opener between the Bulldogs and Eels at Bankwest Stadium, despite general community fears.
“Everyone continue to go to public events, everyone continue to do your normal activities, but if you’ve got a flu or a fever don’t go,” NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said on Tuesday.
The league sent an email to all 16 clubs advising players to keep contact with fans to a minimum and not shake hands before or after games.
They’ve also told players to carry personal hand sanitiser, not take selfies and avoid the general public as much as reasonably possible.
Like the AFL, the NRL has said it will play games in front of empty stadiums if mass gatherings are restricted by state or federal governments.
There are still major concerns over the status of the 2020 Tokyo Games, given Japan has been one of the countries hardest-hit by coronavirus.
A top Olympic official said on Wednesday contingency plans will need to be drawn up next month which could include delaying the Games by up to two years.
“The International Olympic Committee would be in trouble if there’s a cancellation. American TV rights alone provide them with a huge amount,” Haruyuki Takahashi told the Wall Street Journal.
The Olympics would likely be pushed into 2021 or 2022, rather than moved later into 2020, because of that funding from the United States.
NBC is the Olympic broadcaster in the US, and would not want its multi-billion investment in the Games to clash with its similarly large investment in the NFL, which begins its season in September.
The NBA suspended the 2019-20 season effective immediately on Thursday afternoon.
Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert tested positive to coronavirus just days after touching microphones at a press conference on purpose to mock the so-called ‘panic’ around the disease.
The other ongoing major sport, ice hockey, is looking at its options. The NHL released a statement on Thursday saying it is consulting with medical experts and expects to have a further update on Friday.
The new baseball season is scheduled to begin in two weeks, with MLB’s Opening Day scheduled for March 26, but at least one team is already looking at moving its games.
The Seattle Mariners may be forced to play games at their spring training base in Arizona, in the US southwest, after their home state of Washington banned public gatherings of over 250 people in the Seattle area.
The NFL Draft, set to be held in Las Vegas in the middle of April, is also in question. Other major events in Las Vegas around that time have already been cancelled or postponed.
There are also questions over WWE’s marquee event WrestleMania, which will be held in early April in Tampa, Florida. It appears likely the event will be rescheduled given a number of recently confirmed coronavirus cases in the area.
The outbreak of the coronavirus has hit football, particularly European football, hard.
With Italy in complete lockdown, Serie A officials postponed the competition for an entire month while they consider radical solutions to decide the winner.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus are top of the table and look destined to be crowned champs, although recent reports suggest the league could be scrapped altogether — meaning CR7’s side would miss out on a cinching a record-shattering ninth successive title.
Given Italy’s state of emergency, other European competitions are starting to follow suit.
Club chiefs are already taking desperate measures to combat the spread of the virus by minimising risks wherever possible — several Premier League teams recently banning handshakes, high-fives, club mascots and even selfies.
Earlier in the week, Arsenal’s highly-anticipated Premier League clash with Manchester City was called off because players from the London-based club had made contact with the owner of Greek side Olympiakos, who has contracted the coronavirus.
While the prospect of postponing or even cancelling the Premier League season seems out of the question (for now, at least), league chiefs are still considering playing the remainder of the games behind closed doors.
According to The Times, if Premier League were to take this measure, they would not allow pubs to show the games in an attempt to avoid large gatherings — meaning season ticket holders and regular single ticket holders will be given access to stream the coverage of matches into their homes.
It’s a step already taken by other European clubs.
Valencia’s recent Champions League tie against Italian outfit Atalanta was played in an empty stadium.
It appears Europe’s governing body is beginning to take action too with UEFA postponing several Europa League games, the Copa del Rey final and games from the Spanish and French Cups.
There are even early talks of the 2020 European Championships (hosted by a selection of countries for the first time) being cancelled or postponed.
Nick Kyrgios put it simply on Thursday: “Bro (crying laughing emoji) there isn’t going to be any tennis”.
The biggest tournament of the year outside of the Slams, Indian Wells, was cancelled earlier this week just days out from the start of qualifying.
Now this entire hard court swing is in doubt, including the Miami Masters (scheduled to begin on March 24), and travel bans are going to wreak havoc on the international schedule.
There are major questions over the French Open, which begins on May 24. France has temporarily banned all gatherings of over 1000 people.
At the very least, it’s likely the clay season will see cancellations. The Monte Carlo Masters are a month away, with the Barcelona Open a week after that.
The Rome Masters (May 10) is also in doubt given the heavy restrictions on movement placed in Italy at the moment.
At the moment, it’s still business as usual for the PGA Tour, though Thursday’s NBA season suspension could trigger a flow-on effect for other US-based sports.
The PGA is not currently planning to cancel any events, with The Players Championship to begin on Friday at TPC Sawgrass in Florida.
The WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is scheduled to be played in Austin in two weeks’ time – the same city that already saw the famous South by Southwest festival cancelled.
But PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said on Tuesday “we fully expect that the tournament will be held in Austin.
“That tournament is two weeks away. We’re all in and making certain that we’re able to operate that event.”
It was reported the PGA Championship (May 14-17) could be moved from Harding Park in San Francisco to TPC Sawgrass, while prices are dropping for tickets to the Masters (April 9-12).
The Washington Post reported a four-round ticket at Augusta was available for $3990 via Stubhub, when the same ticket went for $6490 last year.
Meanwhile the European Tour has cancelled several events in Asia.
Staff working in F1 are being tested for coronavirus, yet the Australian Grand Prix this weekend still has the green light.
A McLaren staff member and four from Haas are in isolation in Melbourne and are awaiting test results.
As a result, fear has grown within the F1 paddock which includes from Ferrari, AlphaTauri and Pirelli personnel who narrowly avoided an Italian travel ban to make it to Melbourne.
Elsewhere, Renault pulled Daniel Ricciardo and Esteban Ocon out of media commitments, while Max Verstappen has a bottle of hand sanitiser with him wherever he goes.
The Chinese Grand Prix is the only event postponed so far, however, the Bahrain Grand Prix will take place behind closed doors.
The majority of series across the globe are still ‘all systems go’, although cricket hasn’t escaped completely unscathed.
Two T20s between an Asia XI and a World XI was meant to take place in Bangladesh later this month with Virat Kohli, Ben Stokes and Chris Gayle among those involved. That series has been postponed until further notice.
Australia’s ODI series against New Zealand is still scheduled to start on Friday in Sydney with Cricket Australia carefully monitoring the situation while reportedly consulting an infectious disease specialist.
Meanwhile, England’s players won’t shake hands in Sri Lanka and will only fistbump, while they are also banned from taking selfies with fans.
India’s ODI series against South Africa could see players banned from using saliva on the ball.
World rugby has been heavily affected by the coronavirus, with high profile games either postponed or moved around the globe.
Three men’s Six Nations fixtures in Europe have been postponed, along with numerous Pro14 games, while Super Rugby’s Sunwolves have been forced to move Japan home matches to Australia.
The Sunwolves will ‘host’ the Crusaders in Brisbane on Saturday.
Japan’s Top League is also on hold while the Hong Kong and Singapore legs of the Sevens World Series have been postponed until October.
A Super Rugby spectator at last weekend’s Rebels game has tested positive for coronavirus.
The man attended AAMI Park in Melbourne on Saturday for the Rebels fixture against the Lions.
“We are taking this matter very seriously and we are working with all relevant stakeholders to determine any potential consequences of his attendance,” Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson said.
The Rebels have also postponed a fan day at Moorabbin Rugby Club on Saturday.
“The continued health and safety of our community must come first,” Stephenson said.
Rugby Australia and SANZAAR say they are working together to safeguard players, officials, support staff and fans.
At this stage round seven of Super Rugby will go ahead as planned, starting with the Chiefs v Hurricanes game in New Zealand on Friday.
“There is a lot of misinformation in the public about the virus and the most important advice for the rugby community is to follow the advice of the health authorities and focus on good hygiene practices as the best preventative measure,” RA’s chief medical officer Warren McDonald said.
“We are being guided by the advice from the authorities and have taken some additional steps with regards to the monitoring of players and staff within our organisations and will continue to communicate the latest developments and make information available to those within our community.”