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Coronavirus continues to impact China’s sports events

Coronavirus continues to impact China’s sports events
February 12, 2020

The coronavirus continues to impact China’s sports events as China’s General Administration of Sport (GAS) has instructed the nation’s sports associations to consider postponing or cancelling events as far as April in response to the virus outbreak in the country.

In a statement released this morning by World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, there have been a reported “42,708 diagnosed cases of coronavirus in China, with the death toll surpassing 1,017 in China alone.

“108 people in mainland China died on Monday, the biggest single-day death toll yet. 2,478 new cases were identified in mainland China, bringing the number there to 42,708. As of Tuesday, 43,101 people were infected worldwide.

While the world's scientific community has been called upon by Director Ghebreyesus to coordinate its international response to the coronavirus, many of China's sporting associations have followed the advice of the GAS.

The Olympic women's football qualifying Group B matches which features China, Australia, Chinese Taipei and Thailand were originally set to be held in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. The tournament was moved to Sydney on 26th January with FFA Chief Executive James Johnson stating that the delay would be actioned after a period of positive negotiations and goodwill among all stakeholders including FIFA, the Asian Football Federation (AFC) and the Chinese Football Association (CFA). The last of the matches sees Australia play China PR tomorrow (13th February.)

China’s striker Wang Shuang was one of four players from China’s team to miss the competition after being affected by the country's ongoing nationwide coronavirus control. Shares videos of her training regimes, Wang Shuang is not letting the coronavirus, confining her to her Wuhan home, stop preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as she Shares videos of her training regimes. Wang is not the only footballer sharing videos of their improvised training regimes. With football cancelled in China to help stop the spread of the virus, many players are confined to their homes.

Originally scheduled to be held at the Suzhou Olympic Sports Centre on 5th February, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) announced the Chinese Super League (CSL) game between last season’s Chinese Super League champion Guangzhou Evergrade and the FA Cup winner Shanghai Shenhua would be postponed until further notice. The Chinese Super League (CSL), the nation’s top-tier football league, scheduled to begin on 22nd February, has also been affected.

The International Basketball Federation have rescheduled the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifying match between China and Malaysia due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China. The match was originally due to be played on 24th February, with a new date expected to be announced later. The game between China and Japan which will take place in Chiba Port Arena in Japan on 21st February will continue to be played as originally scheduled.

The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has indefinitely postponed its season due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. All team practices have also been cancelled as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of the virus. The season could continue in March, but it could also be completely cancelled, as there’s no final decision yet. There are currently around 40 American-born players in the CBA, with teams having sent the American players and their families back home. The CBA has advised that it will “release separate competition plans and schedules on official channels based on how the outbreak progresses, as well as based on feedback from relevant authorities.” It also offered fans refunds for tickets purchased for the first round of league fixtures.

The 14th edition of the Chinese National Winter Games, which was to be hosted in Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia, has been postponed, according to the event’s organising committee. The women's ice hockey and the biathlon competitions, scheduled to be held in Hailar and Yakeshi in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, was also postponed. The event’s women’s ice hockey and biathlon competitions were to start on 1st February with the opening and closing ceremonies on 16th and 26th  February.

The Asian Athletics Association in consultation with Chinese Athletics Association decided to cancel the 9th Asian Indoor Athletics Championships to be held in Hangzhou from 12th to13th February 2020 saying the unanimous decision was made to ensure the “safety of our athletes and officials”, following requests from its medical commission and some member countries.

Alongside this cancellation, comes the postponement of the 18th World Athletics Indoor Championships which were scheduled to be held from 13th to 15th March 2020 in Nanjing, China at the newly-built Nanjing's Cube gymnasium at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Sports Park. The event has now been postponed until March 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak.In a statement, World Athletics said it had agreed to delay the event to provide “our athletes, member federations and partners with a clear way forward in what is a complex and fast-moving set of circumstances”. It admitted that it had no other option given that the spread of the virus both within China and across the world was “still at a concerning level”.

China’s esports competitions have also been affected. Overwatch League owner Blizzard Entertainment has cancelled league matches in China through March, citing concerns over the novel coronavirus in the region. The announcement comes after multiple other esports events, including the start of two League of Legends leagues, were also halted. Blizzard announced its decision in January, posting a statement to Twitter “we have decided to cancel our February and March matches in China in order to protect the health and safety of our players, fans, and staff. We hope fans have a safe and happy Lunar New Year, and we remain incredibly excited to play Overwatch league matches in China later this season.”

China's League of Legends’ Spring tournament, which was scheduled to begin on 5th February, and the 2020 Legends Development League, the secondary league in China for the game, was also postponed.

About the author

Karen Sweaney

Editor, Australasian Leisure Management

Artist, geoscientist and specialist writer on the leisure industry, Karen Sweaney is Editor of Australasian Leisure Management. Based in Sydney, Australia, her specific areas of interest include the arts, entertainment, the environment, fitness, tourism and wellness.

She has degrees in Fine Arts from the University of Sydney and Geological Oceanography from UNSW.

Read more from this author

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