How the coronavirus has hit global sport
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Paris (AFP) –
The Six Nations rugby union match between Italy and England was postponed on Thursday, the latest high-profile sports event to be scratched from the international calendar due to the global spread of the deadly coronavirus.
AFP Sport looks at the effects on sport of the virus, which has killed more than 3,200 people while infecting 95,000 in more than 80 countries worldwide.
-- International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said Wednesday that the nightmare scenario of either cancelling or postponing this year's Tokyo Olympics was not discussed at a key meeting.
"Neither the word cancellation nor postponement was mentioned today during the Executive Board meeting," Bach told reporters in Lausanne on Wednesday.
"I will not add fuel to the flames of speculation. We are fully committed to the success of the Tokyo Games."
The Olympics take place from July 24-August 9.
-- In Italy, the hardest-hit European country with 148 deaths from COVID-19, it was announced that all matches -- as well as all major sports events -- will be played behind closed doors until April 3.
This week's Italian Cup semi-finals were postponed to a date to be arranged while a number of Serie A league games were cancelled. Five of those called off last week will now be played this weekend, including Juventus v Inter Milan.
-- Elsewhere, the start of Japan's J-League was postponed till mid-March while China suspended all domestic football and shelved indefinitely the top-flight Super League season which was due to kick off on February 22.
-- The Swiss league has already suspended all Super League and second-division Challenge League matches until March 23.
-- The Valencia v Atalanta Champions League clash on March 10 will be played behind closed doors as will the Europa League tie featuring Inter Milan against Getafe on March 12.
-- English Premier League players and officials will not take part in the traditional pre-match handshake from this weekend. Teams have been told that they will still line up as usual before kick-off, but the home team will walk past the away side without shaking hands.
-- FIFA and Asia's football governing bodies are considering postponing upcoming 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers on March 26 and 31.
-- The Six Nations match between Italy and England in Rome on March 14 as well as this Saturday's Ireland v Italy duel in Dublin have been cancelled.
-- Sevens World Series tournaments in Hong Kong on April 3-5 and Singapore the following weekend were postponed.
-- Nepal's Everest Premier League, scheduled to begin on March 14, has also been called off. The fourth edition of the Twenty20 league had signed West Indies batting star Chris Gayle, with Afghanistan's Mohammad Shahzad and Sri Lankan batsman Upul Tharanga also due to take part.
-- The Chinese Formula One Grand Prix, which was set for April 19 in Shanghai, was axed as was the March 21 Formula E race slated for Sanya on the Chinese island of Hainan.
-- In motorcycling, the season-opening Qatar MotoGP, set for Sunday, and the Thailand MotoGP have also been scratched. The Thai race has, however, been rearranged for October 4.
-- European Tour chiefs postponed the Maybank Championship in Malaysia and the China Open in Shenzhen -- both set for April.
-- The US LPGA Tour cancelled all three of its lucrative early-season events in Asia with a combined prize purse of more than $5 million.
-- The UAE Tour's last two stages were abandoned with riders and teams subsequently quarantined in their Abu Dhabi hotels. The Gulf state announced six coronavirus cases linked to the event -- two Russians, two Italians, one German and a Colombian.
-- The Strade Bianchi, the first big race of the Italian cycling season set for Saturday, was cancelled Thursday while teams such as Mitchelton, Ineos and Astana have pulled out of Sunday's Paris-Nice.
-- Friday and Saturday's Davis Cup qualifiers between Italy and South Korea in Cagliari and Japan against Ecuador in Miki will be played behind closed doors.
-- The launch of the inaugural Basketball Africa League has been postponed. The NBA-backed 12-team league had been due to tip off on March 13 in Dakar, Senegal.
-- The World Indoor Championships, scheduled for Nanjing from March 13-15, were postponed for a year.
-- The Paris Marathon, scheduled for April 5 with 60,000 registered runners, postponed until October 18.
-- The flagship China Open snooker tournament, scheduled to be held between March 30 and April 5, was called off in late January.
© 2020 AFP