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Coronavirus takes its toll on sport events

Written by Sport, Sport Features

COVID-19, better known as the Coronavirus outbreak, has now infected over 70,000 people across not only Asia, but also the world as a whole.

Saturday 15th brought the inevitable news that it had taken its first victim in Europe, a Chinese tourist who’d visited France from the Hubei region of China.

These latest concerns now bring the reality of sporting events being cancelled or at least postponed for the foreseeable future. In total, so far, 18 different sports have seen events moved or wiped completely from their respective sporting calendars.

Included in the high-profile fatalities are both the Chinese Formula One and Sanya Formula E Grand Prix’s, both being likely to have attracted thousands of supporters from Asia and further afield. Multiple golfing LPGA events have also been completely cancelled in Thailand, Singapore and China, with European Tour competitions in China and Malaysia being postponed for the foreseeable future.

A huge blow to the Asian sporting calendar is the forced moving of the annual Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament, it typically takes place in April of each year, attracting thousands of rugby fans from across the globe to watch the shortened version of the classic 15-aside format of the game.

Why have so many events been cancelled you may wonder? Simply put, governments from around the world are trying to contain the transit of people from in and around Eastern Asia, especially from China and more specifically the Wuhan region of the country, where the virus originates.

“UK nationals [should] leave China where possible. If the situation continues to escalate the pressure on the Chinese health system may intensify, and it may also become harder for people to travel”.

This has meant that sporting events have had little choice but to postpone events due to safety fears for fans. This mirrors the action taken by nations worldwide, who have postponed all travel to the Wuhan region unless essential.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office have recommended “UK nationals to leave China where possible. If the situation continues to escalate the pressure on the Chinese health system may intensify, and it may also become harder for people to travel”.

The outbreak of Coronavirus couldn’t have come at a worse time for organisers of the 2020 Olympics taking place in Tokyo, the first time the country has hosted the biggest sporting event in the world since 1964.

At present, the cancelling of the prestigious event, meant to play host to 33 different sports, “has not been considered” according to the 2020 Games chief Toshiro Muto. This, despite multiple qualification events being postponed already for the main games itself.

The NHS has advised that travellers arriving in the UK from countries including China, Japan and the Republic of Korea to stay alert to “symptoms of cough or fever”. If discovered, the person(s) should stay indoors, as if they have the flu, and inform NHS 111 of their recent travel from Eastern Asia.

Last modified: 20th February 2020

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