A choatic day as coronavirus hits sporting calendar

Paris (AFP) –


On the day the major football tournaments on the European and South American continents were pushed back by 12 months, AFP details an extraordinary series of postponements as the coronavirus pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the international sporting calendar.

0841 GMT: Tokyo 2020 scales back flame festivities

The day started as this year's Olympic Games organisers announced the celebrations around the torch relay will be minimised.

Welcome ceremonies will no longer take place and departure ceremonies will be closed to the public but spectators would still be allowed to watch from the roadside.

The flame is set to arrive in the north of Tokyo on March 20 after the traditional lighting ceremony in Greece took place behind closed doors.

1018 GMT: Japan Olympic Committee deputy head has coronavirus

Less two three hours after the Tokyo 2020's torch relay was scaled back the Games' deputy chief Kozo Tashima said he had tested positive for COVID-19.

Tashima said he had been on a business trip since February 28 visiting countries such as Northern Ireland, the Netherlands and the United States.

1242 GMT: UEFA proposes postponing Euro 2020 to 2021

Just after midday a UEFA source confirmed the plan to AFP after the Norwegian FA tweeted the biggest football event of the calendar year would be put back 12 months.

1254 GMT: UK horse racing suspended

Horseracing in the UK was put on hold from Wednesday, a day after the British Horseracing Authority said racing would continue behind closed doors, though April's Grand National was cancelled.

The sport was criticised last week after tens of thousands of punters flocked to the Cheltenham Festival.

1411 GMT: Copa America moves to 2021

South America's major competition postponed its tournament scheduled for this year. For the first time it was set to be held in two countries -- Argentina and Colombia -- and would feature 12 teams including invitees Australia and Qatar.

It will now take place on June 11 to July 11, 2021.

1419 GMT: UEFA confirm Euro 2020 change

The final confirmation that Euro 2020 will become Euro 2021 came in a statement from UEFA saying this summer's Euros would be moved 12 months later to June 11 to July 11.

UEFA said the postponement would "help all domestic competitions, currently on hold due to the COVID-19 emergency, to be completed".

1432 GMT: 'No need for any drastic decisions' - IOC on Tokyo 2020

Just over two hours after UEFA moved the date of Euro 2020 the International Olympic Committee said any speculation about this summer's games in Tokyo would be "counter-productive."

The question now is whether this year's biggest sporting event can be held in the context of a humanitarian disaster that has already caused more than 7,400 deaths and infected more than 180,000 people around the world.

1450 GMT: Kentucky Derby postponed

The showpiece US horse racing event followed UK racing on the whole by putting their event on hold for the first time since 1945 when it was eventually held in June due to World War II.

This year's 'Run for the Roses' in Louisville will now take place on September 5 instead of May 2.

1531 GMT: Roland Garros re-jigged

The French Open originally set for May 24-June 7 was moved to September 20-October 4 as current confinement measures in France have made it impossible for the organisers to continue with their preparations for the second Grand Slam of the year.

The new dates mean the tournament would start just one week after the US Open, if that event remains in its scheduled slot.