In Depth

What events may be cancelled due to coronavirus?

Six Nations matches postponed and Tokyo Olympics under threat as Covid-19 cases reported worldwide

The scheduled Six Nations match between Ireland and Italy in Dublin next week has become the first major sporting event in Europe to be cancelled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Telegraph reports that the clash, due to take place on Saturday 7 March at the Aviva Stadium, was “put back after meetings between Irish Rugby Football Union chief executive Philip Browne and Irish Health Minister Simon Harris”. The decision comes as the number of Covid-19 cases in Italy surges to more than 520, with 14 deaths as of Thursday afternoon, according to real-time statistics website Worldometer.

More than 80,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported worldwide, disrupting a long list of other planned high-profile events.

Sport

Next week’s rugby match in Dublin was postponed following an intervention by Health Minister Harris, who said: “The clear view of the [National] Public Health Emergency Team was that this game would constitute a significant risk because a very large number of people will be travelling from what is now an affected region.”

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As the BBC notes, the Six Nations tournament may be further disrupted, with officials confirming that they are “monitoring” the situation in Italy, where the national side are due to play the England team in Rome on 14 March.

But the highest-profile event under threat is the Summer Olympics, due to be held in the Japanese capital in July and August. 

Former Canadian swimming champion Dick Pound, now a senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), told the Associated Press news agency that preparations for Tokyo 2020 are “business as usual” and that any decision relating to its cancellation need not be taken until May.

Pound said: “In and around that time, I’d say folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not?’”

However, he added that if coronavirus is deemed to pose too great a threat, the IOC would cancel, rather than postpone or relocate, the Games.

A series of other sporting events have already been called off across Japan, which has reported more than 200 cases of the new coronavirus. All J-League football has been postponed until 15 March, the “biggest disruption of the professional game in Japan since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami”, says The Guardian.

And only a few hundred elite athletes will take part in the Tokyo Marathon this weekend, with nearly 38,000 other entrants told they cannot run.

In China, the epicentre of the outbreak, the World Athletics Indoor Championships, which was to take place in the eastern city of Nanjing from 13 to 15 March, has been postponed until next year.

Meanwhile, the English Football Association (FA) is discussing whether England’s friendly with Italy at Wembley on 27 March can go ahead following the outbreak in Italy, which has already led to four Serie A fixtures being postponed and Inter Milan’s home Europa League tie with Ludogorets becoming a behind-closed-doors fixture.

England’s participation at Euro 2020 is also under review by the FA.

Music and culture

As new site Quartz notes, British grime star Stormzy is postponing the Asian leg of his upcoming 2020 world tour as a result of the outbreak. Apologising for the decision to cancel gigs in Japan, China and South Korea, the artist said: “Due to the ongoing health and travel concerns surrounding the coronavirus, I’m regrettably having to reschedule.”

Pop star Mabel, who was named Best Female Solo Artist at the Brit Awards earlier this month, has cancelled the Italian leg of her tour, tweeting that she was “hoping to reschedule soon”, reports Metro.

Other cultural events that have been postponed or cancelled include Milan’s Salone del Mobile, the largest furniture fair in the world, which was to take place between 21 and 26 April.

Fashion weeks in Beijing and Shanghai that were scheduled for March have been called off for the time being, and carnivals in citires including Nice in France and Venice in Italy have been scaled down or cancelled.

Other events

The Mobile World Congress (MWC), the world’s biggest mobile phone trade show, was set to take place in the Spanish city of Barcelona this week but was cancelled.

Facebook’s Global Marketing Summit, scheduled to be held in San Francisco on 9 March, has also been axed - a decision made in “an abundance of caution”, according to the tech giant.

China’s upcoming National People’s Congress, the country’s key annual gathering of lawmakers, has been postponed too, as the number of cases of Covid-19 in the Asian nation exceeds 78,500, with almost 2,750 deaths.

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