Coronavirus updates: How the virus is affecting sports in the United States, around the world

Growing fears related to the global spread of coronavirus have begun to manifest themselves into official decisions to postpone or cancel events (in Italy and China) with large groups of people gathered together in one concentrated location. With the novel virus not going away anytime soon, sports leagues and organizers of sporting events are weighing whether to take immediate action or wait-and-see approaches.

What is known at this point is that these entities are acknowledging that the disease presents some sort of threat to their plans. As such, here’s a rundown of where some of the biggest sports around the world and in the United States stand with their plans surrounding the virus.

Summer Olympics

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo is the biggest global sporting event of the year, and organizers have already voiced concerns that the disease could cause problems for the event. The status of the games could be up in the air as late as May. By all accounts, it seems like the IOC is going to do all it can to keep the event going, given that a cancellation would result in losses of tens of billions of dollars and severe financial devastation for sports governing bodies that require Olympic income to survive.

For what it’s worth, Tokyo has already had to run a major sports event around the outbreak. The 2020 Tokyo marathon was supposed to include around 38,000 participants in the race, but organizers shrunk that pool to just a few hundred and prevented the public from attending.

Unsurprisingly, the country that first saw coronavirus infect its citizens, China, had an event that was scheduled to be in the city of Nanjing get postponed to next year. The World Athletics Indoor Championships were meant to take place from March 13-15 but will now take place in March 2021.


The regular season is on track to finish on April 15, and the NBA Playoffs are scheduled to go on as scheduled, although players in the Chinese Basketball Association have been temporarily halted from signing NBA contracts. League spokesman Mike Bass said in a statement to Yahoo Sports that the health and safety of the employees, team, players and fans is paramount. “We are coordinating with our teams and consulting with the CDC and infectious disease specialists on the coronavirus, and continue to monitor the situation closely.”

On the court, at least one player says he’s taking a break from signing autographs amid the scare.


Canada, which is home to seven of the 31 teams in the NHL, has about 20 confirmed cases of the coronavirus nationwide. The NHL regular season is set to continue as scheduled with the final day on April 6 and the Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning shortly after. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN: “We are in regular communication with our clubs on the issue and have passed along best practices being recommended by CDC and Public Health Canada medical experts.”Only  twice since 1893 has the Stanley Cup not been won; the first of those instances was when the finals were called off because of an influenza outbreak in the U.S. and Canada. The other was due to the 2004-05 NHL lockout

College basketball

The National College Players Association, a nonprofit advocating for the rights and safety of collegiate athletes, has reportedly asked the NCAA to encourage fans to stay away from tournament games, citing concerns about the disease. “In the wake of the emerging coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA and its colleges should take precautions to protect college athletes,” the group said in a statement released Saturday. “In regard to the NCAA’s March Madness tournament and other athletic events, there should be a serious discussion about holding competitions without an audience present. …The NCAA and its colleges must act now, there is no time to waste.”

Horse racing

The first jewel of the Triple Crown is planned to go on as scheduled with the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. According to WRDB-TV in Louisville, Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen said he and the company are monitoring the spread of the coronavirus, but he does not see a path where it affects attendance in a meaningful way. “We have a lot of time to monitor and learn and study the best protocols to put in place if [the coronavirus], in fact, becomes relevant for our event,” Carstanjen said. “Our team will be very, very focused on that and pay attention to that.”


Italy has shut down its fair share of soccer games due to concerns about the disease. Five matches, including one that had serious implications for the title race, were postponed in the wake of a coronavirus outbreak in the country. Over 1,000 people have tested positive for coronavirus. Cafes and schools all around the country have been closed as a result. Serie A side Juventus were particularly cautious with their U-23 team, telling each player to remain at home until March 8 after it came out that three players from their last opponent came down with the disease.


The premier event on the WWE schedule, WrestleMania 36 is scheduled to take place in Tampa, Florida on April 5, and as the biggest show of the year for the biggest promotion in the world, the company is monitoring the spread of the virus. Speaking in her role as the chief brand officer of the WWE, Stephanie McMahon told the Tampa Bay Times what the company’s focus is. “The health and safety of not only our fan base, but also our superstars, really does come first,” McMahon said. “We don’t want to put anyone in a bad situation ever, regardless of the circumstance. Those are not risks worth taking.”

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