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COVID-19: Guide to Major Disturbances in the Sports World

COVID-19: Guide to Major Disturbances in the Sports World

Over the past couple of months, the COVID-19 calamity has traversed Earth, leaving scores of cancelations behind it. The sports sector is one industry that is experiencing significant disturbances – both in competitions and revenue. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at some of the major events that have been canceled or deferred as of March 25th.  


Without a doubt, one of the most important events that has been impacted by the global health crisis is Euro 2020. On March 17th, the UEFA made the call to postpone the 60th commemorative tournament until the summer of next year. In addition to this, the playoffs will take place in June, rather than in March as originally scheduled.

The UEFA didn’t just choose to defer the Euros; they also decided to postpone their Champions League, as well as their Europa League Both of these events were supposed to have taken place in May of 2020. As of now, they have not announced the rescheduled dates.

No doubt, this was an exceedingly difficult decision for the UEFA to make. In fact, the directors had been struggling with this during the early onset of COVID-19. In prior press conferences, executives of the association adamantly stated that the events would surely not be affected. As time went on, however, they became less and less sure of their ability to hold the events. Finally, on March 17th, the UEFA held many video conference calls with their various divisions. This is what led to their final postponement decision.

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Obviously, this decision was necessary in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus among spectators and players. Yet, many people are sorely disappointed in this decision. After all, this year’s championship was supposed to be more extravagant than in previous years; rather than being hosted in one country, it would take place in 12 nations across the whole of Europe. Now, it is probable that this will still be the case next year. However, the fans will have to impatiently wait until the summer of 2021.

The postponement of the match will most definitely have a huge financial impact on the UEFA. You see, broadcasters do not have to pay for canceled matches. Two main broadcasters in the U.K., Sky and BT Sport, pay over 1.3 billion pounds to broadcast each Euros tournament. That’s a potential cost of 9 million pounds per match! The UEFA is going to lose out on this money, unfortunately, as event insurance typically does not cover communicable diseases without a specific add-on.

COVID-19 mask on a face of a fan near the logo of canceled EURO 2020.

The postponement of major events such as the Euro 2020 is having a domino effect within the sports industry. For instance, the new timeframe for the championship would clash with the 2021 Nations League, which was to take place in the summer of 2021. Now that event, along with the 2021 Women’s Euro, will need to be rescheduled so that way their schedules don’t conflict with the Euro 2020. In a similar vein, UEFA’s Under-21 tournament will need to be rescheduled for the same reason. As of yet, none of these events have a new timeframe.

FIFA is another major football association that has been impacted by this public health crisis. According to an internal document (which was given to the association’s Coronavirus Working Group), teams should be sure to prolong their players’ and coaches’ contracts until the end of the delayed seasons. The document also recommended that transfer windows should be adjusted, in order to account for such delays. Furthermore, the document emphasized the importance of cooperation in order to figure out how salaries can continue to be paid even during such troubling times.

FIFA has decided to delay the Asian Qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup; these matches are supposed to take place in Qatar in March and June of this year.

Within the U.S., Major League Soccer has suspended matches and has a target restart date of May 5th at the earliest. Furthermore, the U.S. Soccer Federation made the decision to cancel all scheduled friendlies. Don Garber, who is the commissioner of the MLS, gave a statement in which he thanked fans for their support. He also emphasized that the MLS’ top priority is the health and safety of its fans and players.

An anonymous source gave a statement to ESPN. The MLS is planning on rescheduling its events for later in the season. They would like to avoid playing behind closed doors, if possible. This may actually be achievable since the MLS was only two weeks into its current season at the time.

Another tournament that has been postponed is the 2020 Copa América. This series of events is held by CONMEBOL and has been delayed until 2021. The news was announced right around the same time that UEFA announced their deferment of Euro 2020. That was certainly not a great couple of days for sports fans. As of right now, the return of the games is set for June – July of next year.

Several football teams in England have players who tested positive for the coronavirus. For instance, Leicester had three players show symptoms. Because of this, they were isolated from their teammates. Five Bournemouth employees showed symptoms and underwent self-isolation. One of the employees showing symptoms was Artur Boruc, their goalkeeper. 

Another English team that has been impacted is Arsenal. Mikel Arteta, their head coach, contracted COVID-19. Callum Hudson-Odoi, who is a winger for Chelsea, also tested positive for it. 

A first-team player for Everton was showing symptoms, so his entire squad, in addition to the coaching staff, underwent self-quarantine. Similarly, two players for Rotherham are exhibiting some symptoms so they decided to isolate themselves. Four Portsmouth players have all contracted the virus. 

Two Italian teams that have infected players are Fiorentina and Juventus. The former has two players that have tested positive, while the latter has three diagnoses. 

In the table below, you can see the aforementioned delays, as well as other football events that have been impacted.

Rescheduled timeframe graph of football leagues caused by COVID-19.


Tokyo 2020 Olympics that were postponed due to COVID-19, like many other sports.

If you have been following sports news, you have almost certainly heard of the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games. The games, which are slated to take place in Tokyo, Japan, shall be held in 2021, likely in July.

On March 27th, the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach held a conference call with members of the committee. During this time, the participants in the call discussed the Olympics’ postponement. The IOC members used this opportunity to express their agreement with the deferment of the 2020 competition. Prior to Bach’s decision to hold off on the games, many competitors had been calling for postponement as it has been too risky to train outside and at gyms as of late. Furthermore, the Olympic Games would most definitely be a risky breeding ground for the coronavirus.

In other good news, the athletes who qualified to participate in the 2020 Olympics will be able to keep their spots for next year’s competitions.

Furthermore, the 2020 Federation International de Gymnastique (FIG) Artistic Gymnastic World Cup has been canceled. This event was to determine 10 gymnasts who would be able to compete in the 2020 Summer Olympics.


Rugby ball in an empty field as most sporting events are postponed

Although the impact of the coronavirus on this sport has not been discussed as often on media as, say, football or the Olympics, it is still being hit hard.

For instance, the Challenge Cup was supposed to have the final (and semi-final) matches in Marseille. They would have taken place throughout the month of May. Well, the board members of EPCR (European Professional Club Rugby) partook in a conference call on March 23rd. During this call, they decided to suspend this seasons’ matches, and the finals will be postponed. The EPCR was adamant, however, that the season will be completed at some point, even though new dates have not yet been announced.

Within the U.K., the RFU (Rugby Football Union) has suspended all activity in England until the 14th of April. They made this decision after the U.K.’s government advised social distancing and the cutback of non-essential travel earlier in March. A representative from the union stated that the board is taking the community’s health very seriously. 

Furthermore, players are being encouraged to stay fit during the suspension – while still following social distancing guidelines. Over the next several weeks, the RFU is going to monitor the coronavirus situation and take any new government guidelines into account before making additional scheduling decisions. It is possible that the suspension will last longer than the 5 weeks the union had originally predicted.

One of the events that was suspended in the U.K. is the Guinness PRO14 – a competition between Ireland, Scotland, Wales, South Africa, and Italy. The annual season was suspended on March 19th; furthermore, the final (which was slated for June 20th) has been canceled. Those who had purchased tickets to the event will be able to receive a refund. Celtic Rugby DAC came up with a list of conditions that must be met in order to lift the suspension:

  • The Public Health Authorities division must lift the prohibition on sports training
  • Travel restrictions between the participating countries should be lifted.
  • There should not be any quarantine orders in effect.
  • Player welfare shall not be endangered.

Currently, the Coral Challenge Cup, which is a Super League knockout tournament, has not been canceled yet. Directors are holding out hope that the competition will be able to go on behind closed doors. If this is the case, the matches will take place on April 4th & 5th. However, there is some skepticism in the sports community that all will go as planned.

New Zealand’s rugby sector is definitely seeing some negative impact. This is due to the fact that the country’s government is enforcing a 2-week-long self-quarantine for anybody who enters the country after travelling internationally.

Hopefully, this travel restriction won’t be the death of rugby in New Zealand. The chief executive of New Zealand Rugby, Mark Robinson, made a media statement in which he was unsure whether rugby will be able to return. And, if it does return, there may be some possible changes to the sport.

Within Australia, Sidney’s rugby headquarters has been closed for the time being. This is because two members that visit the building have been exhibiting signs of the coronavirus.

South Africa is another country that has seen impacts to their rugby industry. Its premier rugby league has suspended all matches until April 25th at the earliest. Furthermore, the league has cancelled all teams’ business travel plans and training camps. 


Cricket in 2020 mostly suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic.

One major cricket league that has been affected by the coronavirus is the PSL (Pakistan Super League). Due to looming threats of the pandemic, the league decided to suspend events indefinitely. The league was supposed to run their semifinals on March 17th but decided to hold off after an emergency meeting with franchise owners, as well as  the PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board.)

One member who attended the meeting, Javed Afridi, gave a statement that the decision was made in order to protect the health of the players, as well as staff. The franchises will once again convene as the pandemic subsides. At that point, they will make a decision on how to continue the season. It stands to note that the league’s decision was made after reports showed that Alex Hales, a batsman for England had been experiencing viral symptoms. Hales was participating in the Pakistan Super League competitions prior to displaying symptoms.

The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) broke the news on March 24th that every professional cricket event shall be suspended until May 28th. The men’s league is slated to start summer matches on June 4th, while the women’s league should still be able to begin on June 25th.

In April, Ireland was supposed to play matches in Zimbabwe. However, these matches, in addition to their Bangladesh matches, have been postponed. The chief of Cricket Ireland, Warren Deutrom, gave a statement in which he admitted he doesn’t know what will happen to the sport, even if it does manage to continue on in June. The pandemic comes at an inopportune time for Ireland.The cricket organization was already facing financial difficulties earlier in the year, which led to the cancelations of several matches.

After the nation’s government’s self-quarantine mandate for travelers, New Zealand Cricket decided to cancel its final two domestic first-class matches. March 19th, the organization confirmed that the entire men’s cricket team were in self-isolation after returning from Sydney, Australia. Speaking of Australia, their women’s cricket team has canceled their tour of South Africa, which was supposed to start on the 22nd of March.   

South Africa’s cricket certainly hasn’t been spared during this health crisis. In fact, the county has canceled all cricket activity for a minimum of 60 days. The upcoming international competition between South Africa and India has been rescheduled. However, South Africa’s matches with Australia and New Zealand have been cancelled altogether.

Members of South Africa’s cricket team underwent self-isolation after returning from a tour of India. The team was gone for ten days, but were not able to participate in a single match. The first match was canceled due to the rain, while the others were called off once the threat of coronavirus increased. Prior to leaving for the tour, the CSA (Cricket South Africa) predicted the risk of travelling to India. At the time, they determined that the risk was low. However, the situation rapidly changed. Furthermore, players were concerned about how their families were faring back home; all of these factors are what led the team to travel back to South Africa.


Gold ball in an empty field, as most golf events were suspended.

The European Tour has been drastically impacted by coronavirus. Seven of their events have been postponed, and three events have been canceled altogether.

Another major tournament that is being postponed is the United States’ PGA Championship. Currently, officials are holding out hope that the event can still take place during the summer of 2020. The PGA announced the postponement on March 17th; the event was originally slated to take place in mid-May. 

Seth Waugh, the CEO of PGA’s American sector, made a statement that this decision was due to public health guidelines, as well as the statewide quarantine of California. After all, the event was to take place in San Francisco. Waugh assured listeners that the PGA is in communication with the mayor of San Francisco, and that they are in cooperation to hold the championship in the summer once it is safe to do so.

On March 16th, South Africa suspended all of the activities that were to take place in the Sunshine Tour. Selwyn Nathan, the commissioner for the tour, commented on the organization’s press statement. Nathan stated that the Sunshine Tour’s decision is in alignment with worldwide postponements of events.  The tour does have a “Return to Golf” plan in place, which should hopefully help the events resume as smoothly as possible once the worldwide health crisis has died down.

Now, let’s look at the effect the coronavirus has had on the UK’s golf industry. The Royal & Ancient Golf Club is currently deciding what they will do regarding The Open Championship, as well as the Women’s British Open. However, even though matches may be able to continue as scheduled, the club has closed its food and drinks services. 

Furthermore, the locker room has been closed. The secretary of the club, Stephen Toon, sent an email to members detailing the changes and apologizing for the inconvenience. Regardless of the annoyance of such measures, he assured members that these actions are necessary and the responsible thing to do. Furthermore, these areas legally had to be shut down, in order to be in accordance with Boris Johnson’s lockdown regulations.

Even though some courses are still open in the U.K., nearly half of courses throughout Europe have been shut down.


Sadly, the 40th anniversary of the famous London Marathon has been put on pause. As of now, it is rescheduled for early October. Hugh Brasher, who is the director of the race, made a public statement acknowledging that this is an unprecedented and disappointing situation. Thousands of charities are being let down, and there are so many runners who have been undergoing strenuous training for the months leading up to the event.

Fortunately, every runner who was participating in the April 2020 event will be able to attend the one in October without having to pay the fee again. If somebody chooses not to take part in the rescheduled event, they will receive a refund. Alternatively, they can choose to donate their entry fee to charity. If a runner does not take one of those two actions, the entry fee will roll over to the 2021 marathon.

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