Coronavirus in sport: Masters and Giro latest high-profile events postponed

By Sports Desk March 13, 2020

The sporting calendar over the next few weeks looks extremely bare as events continue to be postponed or cancelled as a result of the threat of the coronavirus.

All of Europe's top five leagues have now been suspended, as the Bundesliga followed Serie A, LaLiga, Ligue 1 and the Premier League in calling a halt to proceedings just hours before its latest round of fixtures was due to kick off.

Golf's first major, the Masters, will not take place on April 9 as initially scheduled, while the Giro d'Italia, the final Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland, and marathons in London and Boston have all been affected by COVID-19, too.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 140,000, we take a look at the latest round of postponements.

 

After the PGA Tour cancelled all events leading up the Masters, all eyes were on whether the prestigious event at Augusta National Golf Club would be called off until further notice. That news arrived on Friday, with organisers saying it was "appropriate under these unique circumstances".

With around four hours to go before the first Bundesliga game of matchday 26, the league was finally suspended due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Germany.

Defender Timo Hubers, who plays for 2. Bundesliga side Hannover, was one of the first players across Europe to test positive for the virus, and Paderborn, who had been due to Fortuna Dusseldorf on Friday night, were waiting on tests results for their players when news came down from the league.

Clubs will meet again on Monday, with the league advising a suspension until April 2.

World Cup qualifiers in Africa were suspended, while European clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona have stopped their players from training at their facilities for the time being.

As Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba encouraged people to "dab to beat coronavirus" and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp backed the decision to postpone the Premier League, Serie A clubs Sampdoria and Fiorentina reported positive cases involving their players in Italy, one of the worst-affected countries.

The country's major cycling race, the Giro d'Italia, will not begin as scheduled on May 9 as Hungary said it was unwilling to host the first three stages. The whole race was subsequently postponed.

Six Nations contest between Italy and England in Rome, originally slated for Saturday, had already been called off, and the only fixture of the tournament not to be postponed was put back indefinitely on Friday. Wales' clash with Scotland in Cardiff was finally called off the day before it was set to take place, while Sunday's Premiership Rugby Cup final between Sale Sharks and Harlequins has also been postponed.

South Africa's ODI tour of India will be rescheduled for another time, the first match having been washed out on Thursday, while the Boston Marathon will now take place on September 14. The new date for the London Marathon is October 4.

Elsewhere, NASCAR has postponed races in Atlanta and Miami over the next two weekends. Those races were initially going to be held without fans. All IndyCar Series races through April have been cancelled.

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    It was confirmed on Wednesday that Suarez, 33, has left Barca and joined Atletico Madrid for €6million after the Blaugrana deemed him surplus to requirements.

    Despite finishing 2019-20 with 16 LaLiga goals from 22 starts, Suarez had long seemed likely to leave Barca, particularly after Ronald Koeman's arrival in place of Quique Setien.

    Media reports claimed the Dutchman told Suarez he was not in his plans, a situation rumoured to have contributed to Messi's desire to leave; but where Barca refused to sanction their talisman's exit, the Uruguay striker departs having risen to third on the club's all-time goalscoring list with 198.

    Suarez's strong relationship with Messi has been known for much of their time together at Barca, though the former Liverpool striker – who let the tears flow in front of the media on Thursday – revealed he was given a slightly different impression of the Argentina star upon arriving in 2014.

    "Everyone knows the relationship I have with Leo," Suarez said, with Messi in attendance. "When I arrived at Barcelona they said, 'be careful with Leo', due to me being a forward, and it turns out that Leo has been spectacular with a striker for many years.

    "We always try to be at the level of Barcelona, and I have to be proud of everything we have done.

    "Leo, we know each other so much that we know what we think of each other. We are big enough that we are able to give each other advice. That we will face each other in complicated games will not change our relationship."

    Suarez let it be known in no uncertain terms that the decision for him to leave the club came from Koeman alone.

    "Sometimes the club needs changes and the coach did not count on me," he added. "I leave with the feeling that I have fulfilled [expectations] – being the third top scorer of a club is not easy.

    "I expected it [Koeman's decision], it had already been said before he told me. I had no problem taking a step to the side, but I wanted to continue training while looking for a solution. Koeman agreed to it.

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    "The club trusted me from the beginning and I will always be grateful for the treatment they gave me. They trusted me after a mistake I made and that is not easy," he said.

    "A stage that I am very proud of is ending. I take friends with me and that makes me happy. Beyond a player, leaving is a human being who has feelings.

    "That my children saw me play alongside incredible players, that they saw me alongside the best in history, score goals, raise trophies, it will always remain in my memory. Many thanks to the fans for everything your support, I will never forget."

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    Clarke added: "Rugby Australia will do everything in its power to help assist New Zealand Rugby and the team in finding a reasonable resolution, and in urging them to exhaust every possible alternative.

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