© Ciro Fusco/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock Fans took precautions at Tuesday’s game between Napoli and Barcelona in Italy. (Ciro Fusco/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
With coronavirus cases globally on the rise, sports leagues are scrambling, with the list of changes growing by the minute and some games being contested in empty stadiums.
The virus is on the rise in Europe, particularly in Italy, and it forced a change in the Six Nations rugby schedule. The match between Ireland and Italy, set for March 7 in Dublin, was called off Wednesday, the day after Ireland’s minister for health, Simon Harris, said bluntly, “This game should not go ahead.” The decision came after a meeting with the Irish Rugby Football Union.
Philip Browne, chief executive of the IRFU, said it was “perfectly happy” to cancel the men’s, women’s and under-20s games in hopes that the virus in Europe could be contained. The matches were not immediately rescheduled.
The women’s match between Scotland and Italy, set for last Sunday in Legnano, was called off and has not been rescheduled.
Here’s look at where sports events stand.Soccer
Cases of the illness are on the rise in Italy and this weekend’s Serie A matches at Udinese, AC Milan, Parma and Sassuolo will take place but fans will be barred from attending. Games at Lazio, Napoli, Lecce and Cagliari will proceed with fans allowed to attend.
Italy: The Europa League Round of 32 game between Inter Milan and Ludogorets will take place Thursday behind closed doors. Inter was one of four Serie A teams that postponed games last weekend. No decision has been reached on whether to allow fans to watch Monday’s Sampdoria-Hellas Verona match.
Serie A fixtures to be played with no crowds: Juventus-Inter; Udinese-Fiorentina; AC Milan-Genoa; Parma-Spal; Sassuolo v Brescia.
Serie A matches to be played with fans: Lazio-Bologna; Napoli-Torino; Lecce-Atalanta; Cagliari-Roma.
Champions League: Juventus fans were cleared to travel to France for a Champions League match Wednesday against Lyon, with “no special restrictions … ”
China’s Super League: In China, where the virus originated, the Super League, the country’s premier league, postponed its Feb. 22 season-opening matches, with no date for play to begin in a season that runs through Oct. 31.
China’s national team: The women’s team was quarantined after Olympic qualifying matches were moved to Australia.
Japan: The J League postponed all domestic games through early March and seven Levian Cup matches in February.In other sports
Baseball: Fans in Japan will be not be allowed to attend 72 preseason games. In America, a Boston Red Sox prospect from Taiwan is being kept away from the team’s spring-training facility over what a spokesperson said is an “overabundance of caution” because of the coronavirus. Chih-Jung Liu, 20, isn’t under quarantine.
Badminton: The Vietnam International Challenge that was to serve as a qualifying event for the Tokyo Olympics has been pushed from March 24 to June. The Lingshui China Masters tournament was recently canceled, too, and drops from the Olympics qualifying process.
Basketball: Asia Cup qualifying matches, including Philippines vs. Thailand and Japan vs. China, have been postponed. Two women’s Euro League games (Reyer Venezia-TTT Riga and Schio-Sopron Basket) were postponed to Thursday and will be played in Ljubljana, Slovenia, rather than in Italy’s Venezia region.
Golf: The LPGA canceled the Blue Bay tournament in Hainan and the Honda LPGA Thailand and HSBC Women’s world Championship in Singapore. The European Tour canceled the Maybank Championship in Malaysia and the China Open, both set for April.
Motorsports: China’s Formula E race on March 21 has been canceled and the Chinese Grand Prix, set for April 19, has been postponed. The Formula One Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 has been postponed.
Running: The March 1 Tokyo Marathon will go on as planned, but organizers have restricted it to elite runners only. It’s traditionally one of the world’s biggest marathons, with more than 37,000 runners last year. The Hong Kong and Pyongyang (North Korea) marathons have been canceled entirely.
Skating: The World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in South Korea were postponed.
Sumo: The Japan Sports Agency has asked the Japan Sumo Association to consider changes its March 8-22 grand tournament in Osaka. The possibilities postponement, cancellation and closing the event to fans.
Table tennis: The world championship was moved from March to June in Busan, South Korea.
Tennis: Travel restrictions forced China to forfeit a Davis Cup tie against Romania and the Women’s Tennis Association canceled the Xi’an Open tournament.
World Athletics Championships: The World Athletics Indoor Championships, which were to take place in Nanjing, were postponed until next year.