Coronavirus in sport: ATP Tour suspended for six weeks, multiple football leagues paused

By Sports Desk March 12, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic continued to lead to widescale disruption in the world of sport on Thursday.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has resulted in the ATP Tour being suspended for six weeks, while the PGA Tour will be played behind closed doors until April 5.

Football in Spain, the Netherlands, the United States and Portugal has been put on hiatus, while Champions League games between Manchester City and Real Madrid, and Juventus and Lyon have been postponed.

A second Serie A player has been confirmed to have contracted coronavirus, while the Utah Jazz announced a second positive test for COVID-19. Donovan Mitchell confirmed he was the latest individual with the infection, while Rudy Gobert is reported to be the other.

We look at the biggest events to have been impacted by the proliferation of the virus.

 

A six-week suspension was implemented by the ATP Tour, which it said came in the wake of the World Health Organization declaring the spread of COVID-19 constituted a pandemic and 30-day travel restrictions imposed by the United States.

ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said: "This is not a decision that was taken lightly and it represents a great loss for our tournaments, players, and fans worldwide. However, we believe this is the responsible action needed at this time in order to protect the health and safety of our players, staff, the wider tennis community and general public health in the face of this global pandemic."

The WTA Tour was yet to follow suit, but the Miami Open has been scratched from its schedule after a state of emergency was declared in Miami-Dade County.

Following the news that LaLiga had suspended its next two matchdays and Real Madrid had established a self-imposed quarantine in the wake of one of their basketball players testing positive for COVID-19, Los Blancos' Champions League last-16 second leg against Manchester City on Tuesday was postponed.

The meeting between Juventus and Lyon has also been pushed back after Daniele Rugani was confirmed to have contracted coronavirus and the Serie A champions implemented isolation procedures.

UEFA will hold a videoconference with European football stakeholders on Tuesday to discuss the response to the outbreak. The talks will include all domestic and European competitions, including Euro 2020.

Bosnia-Herzegovina has requested its Euro 2020 play-off against Northern Ireland on March 26 be postponed, while Denmark expects its friendly against England five days later to be cancelled.

One game that has been cancelled is Wales' friendly against the United States on March 30.

Sampdoria announced Manolo Gabbiadini was the second professional Serie A player to test positive. The club said he had "a slight fever, but is otherwise fine". On Sunday Gabbiadini played 61 minutes against Hellas Verona, who also activated isolation procedures as a result.

Hannover confirmed a second case of coronavirus in their squad, with Jannes Horn following Timo Hubers in testing positive. All players from the German team will be under home quarantine for the next 14 days, with the club asking for their upcoming 2.Bundesliga games against Dynamo Dresden and Osnabruck to be called off.

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers revealed three of his players have shown symptoms of coronavirus and have been isolated from their team-mates. Stats Perform understands all players put into isolation have only displayed mild symptoms, meaning they have not met the threshold to be tested for the virus.

In the Netherlands, all football has been cancelled until March 31. This includes amateur and professional games, as well as the national team's fixtures against the USA and Spain.

Portugal's Primeira Liga and the CONCACAF Champions League have been postponed for an indefinite period, while MLS has been suspended for the next 30 days.

Elsewhere in the USA, the NHL season has been paused. Comissioner Gary Bettman said: "Following last night's news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus - and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point - it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time."

The PGA Tour will continue as scheduled, though fans will be barred from attending events starting from Friday at the Players Championship until the Texas Open, which finishes on April 5.

However, the Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship has been cancelled due to potential logistical issues associated with players and staff travelling internationally.

The Washington Wizards have imposed self-isolation on players, coaches and basketball operations personnel for three to four days. The Wizards played the Jazz – who have confirmed two cases of coronavirus among their roster – on February 29 and the New York Knicks on March 10. The Knicks had a game with Utah six days before the Wizards did.

The Jazz's second positive test came after their game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday was called off. Mitchell said on Instagram: "Thanks to everyone who has been reaching out since hearing the news about my positive test. We are all learning more about the seriousness of this situation and hopefully people can continue to educate themselves and realise that they need to behave responsibly both for their own health and for the well being of those around them."

After the NCAA announced no fans would be permitted at March Madness, the American, Atlantic 10, C-USA, MAC, America East, Big East, Big Sky and WAC announced their conference tournaments had been cancelled.

The Washington Redskins became the first NFL team to announce a change in protocol in relation to the coronavirus. Redskins owner Dan Snyder said: "Due to health and travel concerns surrounding COVID-19, Redskins have informed all coaches and scouts to suspend all travel until further notice."

Promoters Top Rank have confirmed their upcoming boxing shows at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden will go ahead behind closed doors.

Shakur Stevenson is scheduled to defend his WBO featherweight world title against Miguel Marriaga in the main event on Friday's card in New York, while Michael Conlan headlines next Tuesday when he takes on Belmar Preciado in a 10-round contest.

The remaining two ODIs between India and South Africa will also be played behind closed doors, the International Cricket Council announced. There will also be no fans at Pakistan Super League games in Karachi.

In rugby union, the Pro14 has been indefinitely suspended. A statement said: "Resumption of the 2019-20 season will now become a matter of constant review. To this point Pro14 Rugby has ensured that it has the latest information and guidance made available by the local and national authorities via our participating unions in the UK, Ireland, Italy and South Africa."

However, the quarter-finals in the European Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup remain set to go ahead as planned.

The next two NASCAR events at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway over the next two weekends will be undertaken behind closed doors.

Related items

  • Ryder Cup: How the teams would have looked at Whistling Straits this weekend Ryder Cup: How the teams would have looked at Whistling Straits this weekend

    This weekend should have seen the 43rd Ryder Cup taking place at Whistling Straits.

    Of course, the coronavirus pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the sporting calendar eventually led to the postponement of golf's most prestigious team event.

    Team Europe, captained by Padraig Harrington, will instead defend the trophy in a year's time against Team USA, who will be skippered by Steve Stricker.

    Here, we take a look at who would have qualified for their respective teams so far if the Ryder Cup were starting on Friday.

    TEAM USA:

    Qualification process explained:

    The PGA of America and team captain Stricker announced a tweak to the qualification process following the pause of the season caused by the pandemic. All points collected since 2019 will continue to stand and the selection criteria will continue to run through the second 2021 FedEx Cup playoff event (the BMW Championship). The top six on the points list will qualify automatically, with Stricker having six captain's picks.

    1) Dustin Johnson

    A veteran of four Ryder Cups but only one that resulted in an American victory – that coming in 2016 at Hazeltine. Since the PGA Tour resumed, Johnson has been in tremendous form and became champion of the lucrative FedEx Cup.

    2) Bryson DeChambeau

    A man of unquestionable talent, whose methodical game has not always sat well with pundits and fellow professionals. But after breaking his major duck at the U.S. Open last weekend, even his greatest detractors have to give kudos to DeChambeau, who made his Ryder Cup debut in 2018.

    3) Collin Morikawa 

    It has been a truly breakout year for 23-year-old Morikawa, who became a major champion by winning the US PGA Championship.  That saw him reach a career-high ranking of fifth (he now sits sixth in the world) and if he can maintain his form, Morikawa will be an exciting Ryder Cup rookie.

    4) Brooks Koepka

    Injuries have sadly taken a toll on Koepka either side of the coronavirus break but on his day the four-time major winner is unbeatable. A fully fit Koepka, who has appeared at two Ryder Cups, will be a formidable foe for anyone on Team Europe and fans the world over will want to see him firing on all cylinders. 

    5) Justin Thomas

    Already a major champion by the time he appeared at the 2018 Ryder Cup as a rookie, Thomas was a starring light for a struggling American team as he earned four points on debut. Now established among the game's elite, Thomas will be a main man for Stricker as Team USA aim to regain the trophy.

    6) Webb Simpson

    A player who has enjoyed a career resurgence and made a third Ryder Cup appearance in 2018 having missed out two years prior. Ranked seventh in the world and with a couple of wins to his name in 2020, Simpson looks a pretty sure bet to play regardless of if he qualifies automatically.

    Likely captain's picks?

    Stricker has an abundance of talent to choose from and, if qualification ended today, Xander Schauffele would be an almost guaranteed pick. Patrick Reed is next in the standings and, while his talent is undoubted, his seeming struggle to play nicely with others in the team would possibly be a cause of concern for the captain. Tiger Woods is way down in 15th and struggling for form but could a player of his calibre earn a lifeline? The likes of Tony Finau, Daniel Berger and Matthew Wolff would hope to receive a call but Jordan Spieth – down in 25th – needs to find some consistency.

    TEAM EUROPE:

    Qualification process explained:

    For Team Europe, the criteria are different. The process was frozen in July until January, with points earned up until that point remaining valid. The top four in the European points standings qualify, as do the next five highest ranking players on the world points list. Captain Padraig Harrington picks the final three players for the team. Points multipliers may be added to European Tour events closer to the Ryder Cup.

    1) Tommy Fleetwood

    One half of the 'Moliwood' pairing alongside Francesco Molinari that won hearts, and crucially plenty of points, for a dominant Team Europe in 2018. Fleetwood was in fine form towards the back end of 2019 and the start of 2020 but has struggled since golf returned. Still, with plenty of points accrued and time to find form, Fleetwood looks sure to play.

    2) Jon Rahm

    Rahm picked up a single point from three matches as a rookie two years ago and will be desperate to make a mark in an event where his Spanish compatriots Seve Ballesteros and Sergio Garcia have become so synonymous. With two wins in 2020 and a brief stop as world number one for the first time, Rahm is now a major European player. 

    3) Rory McIlroy

    A veteran now of five Ryder Cups, four of which ended in victory, McIlroy will be the leading man in Europe's quest to retain the trophy. He was in flying form prior to lockdown and a top 10 at the U.S. Open suggests McIlroy is again on an upward trajectory.

    4) Victor Perez

    An outstanding rookie season in 2019, including a win at the Alfred Dunhill Links, has left Perez in a strong position. But struggles in 2020 will have to be solved if he is to be a part of Harrington's team a year from now.

    5) Tyrrell Hatton

    Having earned a taste of the Ryder Cup two years ago, where he won one point from three matches, Hatton will be desperate to make the team once again. With five top-10s in 2020, including winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he has every chance of doing so.

    6) Danny Willett

    Having missed seven cuts from his previous 10 events, Willett is a player who will have to raise his game in 2021 to play at a second Ryder Cup.

    7) Matthew Fitzpatrick

    A rookie during the losing effort in 2016, Fitzpatrick failed to make the team two years ago. At the minute, the Sheffield-born star has his destiny in his own hands. With three top-10s and as many missed cuts in the past six starts, consistency will be key.

    8) Lee Westwood

    A real veteran of Team Europe, Lee Westwood played in 10 straight Ryder Cups between 1997 and 2016, ending up on the winning side on seven occasions. Even if he fails to make the automatic spots, if he can stay in decent form then his experience could convince Harrington to hand out a captain's pick.

    9) Bernd Wiesberger

    A three-time European Tour winner in 2019, Wiesberger – who has never played at a Ryder Cup – will be desperate to rediscover that groove to make the team.

    Likely captain's picks?

    Ryder Cup legends Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter are well off the pace for automatic picks but if either man can hit form at the right time then their experience would likely be too invaluable for Harrington to ignore. Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson are both knocking on the door and would fancy their chances of making the team without the need of a hand from Harrington.

  • French Open 2020: Will Serena's heir emerge at Roland Garros? French Open 2020: Will Serena's heir emerge at Roland Garros?

    Margaret Court's record is still in play, but Serena Williams' era of dominance on the WTA Tour looks to be winding down as another grand slam approaches.

    Williams has won none of the past 13 majors, dating back to her most recent success at the 2017 Australian Open, though she missed the first four of those having given birth.

    This is the 23-time champion's longest stretch without a grand slam win since she made her Melbourne bow in 1998.

    Williams has reached at least the semi-finals in five of her past eight major appearances, yet she has not recorded a win in that time and, having not made the Roland Garros quarter-finals since 2016, an end to that miserable run appears unlikely in the coming weeks.

    So could the future of the women's game be present in Paris? Well, finding Serena's heir is proving rather difficult.

    While she is one of seven female players to have claimed 10 or more major titles, Serena is the only member of that elite group to have won a championship in the 21st century.

    Justine Henin and Serena's sister Venus have each had seven wins, yet other genuine rivals have been a rarity over the past 20 years.

    Roland Garros results have illustrated this trend as well as any championship. Only Serena, Henin and Maria Sharapova have won multiple French Open titles since the start of the 2000 season, with Henin's 2005-2007 run the last time a woman celebrated consecutive triumphs on the red clay.

    That drought will continue for at least another year, too, due to Ash Barty's absence.

    Another name missing from this year's draw is perhaps the most likely candidate to emulate Williams' success. US Open champion Naomi Osaka is still just 22 but has won three of the past seven majors she has contested. That also amounts to just three victories in three seasons, but time is on her side as she looks to shape her own legacy.

    Williams is Osaka's idol, as was so painfully evident when the Japanese shed tears following a grand slam breakthrough that came during Serena's 2018 US Open meltdown. The pair watched one another at Flushing Meadows earlier this month, although Serena's last-four defeat prevented a highly anticipated final rematch.

    "I feel like she's such an intense player that is really exciting to watch," Williams said of Osaka, who looks to have adopted her role model's single-minded drive.

    Discussing her impressive grand slam record prior to this month's victory over Victoria Azarenka, Osaka revealed her approach: "No-one remembers anyone but the winner."

    Yet Osaka has work to do if she is going to be a winner on all surfaces like Williams, one of just two players - along with Sharapova - to win a career Grand Slam since the turn of the century. Angelique Kerber could join that club in the coming weeks, yet French Open success seems increasingly unlikely for the two-time quarter-finalist and world number 22. Osaka has not been past the third round at Roland Garros or Wimbledon, reserving her success for the hard courts.

    Meanwhile, although victory at the Australian Open in 2019 quickly added to Osaka's first triumph, that second title has proved tricky for a number of other hopefuls.

    Since Serena's 23rd major honour, six women have become one-off grand slam winners - including Sofia Kenin, 21, and Bianca Andreescu, 20. The pair are younger than several other champions, yet neither have even reached a quarter-final outside of their sole successes.

    Andreescu has seen her 2020 season completely wrecked by injury and withdrew from Roland Garros this week. In her stead, others will look to join her as a champion. Qatar Open winner Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina and last year's French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova are each younger than Osaka and hold a place in the WTA's top 20.

    Then, of course, there is Coco Gauff, ranked 51st.

    The 16-year-old beat Venus at both the 2019 US Open and the 2020 Australian Open, also eliminating defending champion Osaka at the latter. At each tournament, she lost only to the eventual winner.

    "She clearly wants it, works very hard, is extremely mature for her age," Venus said. "I think the sky's the limit for her."

    But a first-round exit at the US Open represented a reality check for Gauff. With no Barty and no Osaka, might she seize the opportunity and bounce back in stunning style at Roland Garros?

    Or is this Serena's time? Number 24 at last. It is up to the next generation to ensure she cannot afford to keep passing up such chances.

  • Rumour Has It: Man Utd to make final Sancho bid, Madrid face Camavinga competition Rumour Has It: Man Utd to make final Sancho bid, Madrid face Camavinga competition

    Jadon Sancho has been tipped to swap Borussia Dortmund for Manchester United, but he remains in Germany.

    Sancho's valuation has proved a stumbling block for United, who have made the England international their number one transfer target.

    United, though, are not giving up hope as they reportedly make one last attempt to sign the 20-year-old.

     

    TOP STORY – UNITED SET FOR FINAL SANCHO OFFER

    Manchester United will make a take-it-or-leave-it offer for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to the Daily Star and the Mirror.

    United have so far been unable to prise Sancho from Dortmund, who refuse to budge on their €120million (£108m) asking price.

    But United are preparing a final and non-negotiable £90m (€98m) offer, with £75m (€82m) up front with an additional £15m (€16m) in add-ons.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - AS reports Real Madrid face competition for Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga. Eyeing a move for Camavinga in 2021, Madrid are set to face a battle from Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich.

    Kylian Mbappe could be available for around €100m, says L'Equipe. The PSG star, who is reportedly seeking an exit, is wanted by Madrid and Liverpool.

    - The Sun claims Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga is set to leave Stamford Bridge on loan following Edouard Mendy's arrival.

    - Madrid forward Borja Mayoral has agreed to join Serie A side Roma, reports DiMarzio.

    - Alfredo Pedulla says Juventus are weighing up a €60m move for Fiorentina star Federico Chiesa, who has also been linked to Milan.

    - If Milan Skriniar leaves for Tottenham, DiMarzio claims Inter could target Schalke star and Liverpool target Ozan Kabak.

    - According to Marca, Barcelona are making a late push to sign long-time target and Inter forward Lautaro Martinez following Luis Suarez's switch to Atletico Madrid.

    Barca are confident they will sign Ajax full-back Sergino Dest ahead of Bayern, says Fabrizio Romano.

    - Romano also reports that Atletico will not negotiate with Arsenal regarding Thomas Partey as they believe he will stay in the Spanish capital.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.