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Coronavirus in sport: Premier League & Ligue 1 suspended, Bundesliga yet to follow suit

The Premier League and Ligue 1 have followed other competitions’ lead and put their seasons on hold due to the spread of coronavirus, yet most Bundesliga games are still set to go ahead this weekend.

There have been over 138,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 5,000 deaths, with nearly all sports having seen their schedules disrupted by the global pandemic.

The top flights in England and France joined their Italian and Spanish counterparts by postponing their seasons, while both the Champions League and Europa League have been put on hold too.

However, eight of the nine Bundesliga fixtures are due to take place between Friday and Sunday, albeit without fans present, and the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) confirmed the Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland is still set to take place in front of a crowd.

We look at the latest events to have been impacted by the virus.

 

The Premier League announced on Thursday that top-flight fixtures in England would take place this weekend, yet they performed a U-turn on Friday morning after Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta and Chelsea forward Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for coronavirus.

With three Leicester City players, unnamed Manchester City and Everton players, and Bournemouth’s Artur Boruc all self-isolating, all Premier League and English Football League matches have been postponed until April 3. Scottish Premiership and Football League contests have also been suspended, including Sunday’s Old Firm clash between Rangers and Celtic.

It is a similar story in France, where fixtures in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 have been suspended “until further notice”. The German football league has proposed halting the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga until April 2, yet, as it stands, games such as Bayern Munich’s trip to Union Berlin will take place. That baffled star Bayern midfielder Thiago Alcantara who wrote in a since-deleted tweet: “This is crazy. Please stop fooling around and land on reality”. However, Bayer Leverkusen’s proposed trip to Werder Bremen on Monday has been called off.

Next week’s Champions League ties between Manchester City and Real Madrid, and Juventus and Lyon, had already been put back indefinitely, and UEFA has now postponed all matches in that competition and the Europa League.

International friendlies scheduled for this month, including England’s games against Denmark and Italy, and Wales’ contests with Austria and the United States, have been cancelled.

While other sports across the United Kingdom called off planned events this weekend, the WRU reiterated it still intends to stage Wales’ final Six Nations game against Scotland in Cardiff. The two other planned fixtures in the competition had already been postponed and the French Rugby Federation has cancelled all matches, gatherings and training sessions at every level of the sport, a ruling that effects the Top 14.

After the Australian Grand Prix, the season-opening Formula One race, was cancelled early on Friday, the next two grands prix on the schedule, in Bahrain and Vietnam were also postponed. F1 said it intends to “begin the championship in Europe at the end of May”, though that would be “regularly reviewed”.

The PGA Tour took the decision to cancel the final three rounds of The Players Championship and all events for the next three weeks. Five tournaments have been scrapped as a result, but the Masters, due to start on April 9, is still due to take place.

In rugby league, Leeds Rhinos pulled out of Saturday’s Super League match against Catalans Dragons after announcing one of their players has gone into self-isolation with possible COVID-19 symptoms. The fixture in France had been set to happen behind closed doors.

England’s cricket team were on the field in a warm-up match for their two-Test tour of Sri Lanka when they were informed that series was being postponed.

Elsewhere in the sport, the Indian Premier League has been pushed back until April 15, though the Pakistan Super League is set to continue. Australia’s ODIs with New Zealand are still happening, albeit without fans present, and Aussie bowler Kane Richardson tested negative for COVID-19 after missing the first match on Friday with illness.

Australia is one of the few countries where sport is still taking place and NRL games will be staged in front of empty stadiums from next weekend. The competition’s first round started on Thursday with fans present, yet local authorities have now limited public gatherings to 500 people.

In boxing, Shakur Stevenson and Michael Conlan have seen their bouts at Madison Square Garden cancelled. Promoter Top Rank had initially said the March 14 and 17 cards would go ahead behind closed doors but neither fight will now take place as planned.

The NBA was one of the first sports to take a break after Utah Jazz star Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus and, with his team-mate Donovan Mitchell having also contracted the illness, league commissioner Adam Silver declared the season would not resume for “at least 30 days”.

KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta

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