How the Coronavirus Is Disrupting Sports

Beyond that, Silver said that it was too early to predict anything and that it was possible that the rest of the season would be canceled.

Earlier in the week, Gobert had made light of concerns about the coronavirus — something that Silver referred to as a “huge mistake” and that Gobert has since apologized for on social media.

“We spoke to him today, in fact, about doing a public service announcement with the league just because we know the public follows what these players do,” Silver said.

Charles Barkley, one of the hosts of “Inside The N.B.A.,” did not appear in the studio, joining instead by phone. He said at the beginning of the show that he was self-quarantining for 48 hours after not feeling well following a flight from New York to Atlanta. He said he had been tested for the coronavirus but had not received the test results.

“I‘m just kind of in limbo right now,” Barkley said. “I’m really hoping it was just a bug.”

The top European basketball competition, Euroleague, suspended all games in Italy until April 11 after several teams expressed a reluctance to play there.


The Miami Open, one of the top tennis tournaments in the country, was canceled on Thursday as the city’s mayor announced a suspension of large events, including a NASCAR race and major events at American Airlines Arena, the home of the N.B.A.’s Miami Heat.

The Miami Open was scheduled to run March 23 to April 5, with top players including Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic and the Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin. Its cancellation comes after the BNP Paribas Open, one of the world’s leading tennis tournaments, was also canceled because of the spread of coronavirus.

Soon after, the governing body of men’s tennis suspended tour events for six weeks, until April 27.

The Fed Cup finals, scheduled for Budapest in April, have been postponed.


Besides the suspension of M.L.S., United States men’s and women’s team friendlies in March and April have been canceled.

Games across Europe and other parts of the world are being played without spectators or postponed to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Two Champions League games next Tuesday, Manchester City-Real Madrid and Juventus-Lyon, were postponed. A player on Juventus, Daniele Rugani, tested positive for the virus.

The Manchester City-Arsenal match on Wednesday became the first Premier League game postponed. Arsenal had played Olympiakos two weeks ago and some players and staff members had contact with Evangelos Marinakis, the Greek owner of Olympiakos, who has tested positive for the virus.

Spain suspended its top two divisions for at least two weeks. The star-studded Real Madrid team is in quarantine after a player for the club’s basketball team tested positive.

France will bar spectators at all games in the top two divisions until April 15. The League Cup final between P.S.G. and Lyon, originally scheduled for April 4, has been postponed indefinitely.

Portugal will play league games without fans for at least two weeks and Belgium for a week. All weekend games in the Bundesliga in Germany will be played without fans, a first for the league.

In Japan, J League games have been postponed. In China, the Super League schedule has not yet begun, with no date for a return set, as much of the country is under virtual lockdown.

All World Cup qualifying games in Asia were postponed until the fall. The Slovakia-Ireland playoff for Euro 2020 will be played without fans.


Following the lead of other major sports leagues in the United States, the National Hockey League announced Thursday that it was pausing its season, effective immediately. The N.H.L. did not indicate how long the stoppage would last or when it would try to begin play again, saying only that the league’s goal was “to resume play as soon as it is appropriate and prudent.”

Most N.H.L. teams have about a dozen games left in the regular season, with the Stanley Cup playoffs scheduled to begin in about a month. The N.H.L. had tried to keep its schedule intact — including planning to play some games without fans in areas with bans against large public gatherings — and no hockey player is known to have tested positive for the coronavirus.

But after Rudy Gobert of the Jazz tested positive Wednesday night and the N.B.A. canceled its season, the N.H.L. said it was forced to halt theirs. “Given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the N.H.L. community would test positive at some point,” the league said in a statement, “it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time.”

The National Women’s Hockey League said its Isobel Cup final between the Boston Pride and the Minnesota Whitecaps, set for Friday, had been postponed.


The N.F.L. canceled its annual owners’ meeting scheduled for March 29 to April 1 in Palm Beach, Fla., and opted to carry over much of its agenda to their meeting in late May.

The meeting includes owners, coaches and general managers, and attracts hundreds of news media members from around the country. The league said in a statement that it would continue “essential business operations” but would consult with experts on new developments. No mention was made of changes to plans for the N.F.L. draft, which is slated to take place April 23 to 25 in Las Vegas.


In Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced that competition in the Players Championship, which began Thursday, would continue but without fans attending the second, third and fourth rounds scheduled for Friday through Sunday. Monahan said a recommendation Wednesday by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to postpone large gatherings played a pivotal role in his decision. Monahan said the PGA Tour weighed canceling the tournament entirely but after consulting with health officials chose to continue to play. The Valspar Championship, next week’s PGA Tour event outside Tampa, will also be contested without spectators.

Monahan added that golf was an outdoor sport and that given the size of the playing arena — the TPC-Sawgrass golf course is more than 400 acres — it made for “a safe environment.” He added that players also generally “socially distance themselves” in competition.

Players agreed. “It’s not like other sports,” said Jordan Spieth. “There’s no physical contact and there’s so much more space. Although without any fans, it’s still going to be very weird.”

The L.P.G.A. announced in a statement Thursday afternoon that it would postpone three upcoming events: the Volvik Founders Cup, which had been slated for March 19-22 in Phoenix, Ariz.; the Kia Classic in Carlsbad, Calif., scheduled for March 26-29; and the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, Calif., scheduled for April 2-5.

”I am fully committed to rescheduling these important events on our 2020 schedule, especially our first major, the ANA Inspiration,” said Mike Whan, the L.P.G.A. commissioner.

The decision adds to a lengthy layoff for the Tour, which in February canceled events in Thailand and Singapore. The L.P.G.A.’s last notable scheduled event, the Australian Open, was held over a month ago.


President Trump added his voice to the conversation on Thursday, suggesting that the Games in Tokyo should be postponed for a year rather than being held without spectators. Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, has insisted that the Games are on schedule to begin in late July, though a member of Japan’s Olympic organizing committee said Tuesday that postponing the Games would be discussed.

Mr. Trump’s comments came during a news briefing at the White House, where he discussed numerous measures his administration and others were taking to combat the spread of the coronavirus. “Maybe they postpone it for a year,” Mr. Trump said “Maybe that’s not possible.”

Regardless, he said he preferred postponing the Games to holding the events with no spectators. Postponing the Olympics would wreak havoc with the sports calendar for the summer of 2021, which is set years ahead of time and includes world championship competitions in several major sports.

The Olympic flame lighting ceremony in Greece on Thursday was held without spectators.


The France-Ireland game set for this weekend in Paris has been postponed, the third Six Nations match to be put on hold. For now, the last remaining match for the weekend, Wales-Scotland, will be played as scheduled.


Major League Baseball postponed the start of its regular season, scheduled for March 26, by at least two weeks and canceled all remaining spring training games.

Japan has postponed the start of its baseball season, scheduled for March 20, until April.


The New York City Half Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, has been canceled. The Paris Marathon has been delayed from April to October. The Barcelona Marathon has also been postponed until October. The Rome Marathon on March 29 has been canceled.

Winter Sports

The World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal, scheduled to run March 18 to 22, have been canceled. The event was expected to feature about 200 skaters from more than 50 countries.

The women’s world ice hockey championship, to be played in Canada beginning March 31, has been canceled. The Alpine World Cup finals, scheduled to begin March 18 in Italy, have been canceled. The last three races of the women’s skiing World Cup, to be held in Sweden, were canceled.

A cross-country World Cup race this weekend in Minneapolis was canceled.

Auto Racing

NASCAR and IndyCar will hold races without spectators.

Indy will race Sunday in St. Petersburg, Fla., with no fans. NASCAR will do the same in Atlanta and Miami the next two weeks.

The McLaren team pulled out of the Formula One season opener in Australia later this month after a team member tested positive. The race in China, scheduled for April, was previously postponed.

Matt Futterman, Sopan Deb, Kevin Draper and Marc Stein contributed reporting.

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