Coronavirus pandemic, oil price war, a world without sports


It's officially a pandemic. An out-of-the-blue coronavirus outbreak has forced nations into lockdown mode, wreaked pandemonium on world markets and caused a death toll that is skyrocketing. And while the US gets knocked for its lack of global leadership, the Chinese are playing catch-up for their initial cover-up of the outbreak and - with cases there stable - are now sending doctors to Italy. Doctors and two million facemasks - the kind France and Germany refused to send in the past weeks, stockpiling them instead.


As more and more European countries declare states of emergency like Spain this Friday, most of Germany is getting set to follow France's lead and shut schools from next Monday. The crisis is proving a test of solidarity as entire nations prepare for hibernation, in particular for those most vulnerable. Germany is freeing up half-a-trillion euros for big infrastructure spending. On a smaller scale, the European Union has just announced €37 billion to kick-start the economy. That follows a siren call from the likes of Italy but also the new head of the European Central Bank who said on Thursday it is not her job to launch stimulus plans.

In the middle of all this madness, that is when Saudi Arabia decided to start a price war with fellow oil producer Russia. Black gold, which had been trading well north of 60 dollars a barrel, lost a quarter of its value in Monday's trading and finished the week in the low 30s.

Guess it was the wrong week to light an Olympic flame. The ritual ceremony in Greece came amid growing doubts over whether Tokyo can stage the Games this summer. By the end of the week, essentially all major sporting competitions were off around the globe. The NBA season was suspended after the Utah Jazz's Rudy Gobert tested positive; the Frenchman haunted by the joke he made a few days previously, before the number of cases had really spiralled in the United States.

Produced by Charles Wente, Juliette Laurain and Laura Burloux.


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