Sports across the world decimated by COVID-19 Wimbledon the latest

Horse Racing

Sports across the world decimated by COVID-19 Wimbledon the latest

Wimbledon the latest big-name event to be cancelled

BY MARK ARCHER
Contributor

Friday, April 03, 2020

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Hot on the heels of the revelation that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will be shifted to the summer of 2021, the All England Lawn Tennis Club announced on Wednesday (April 1) that Wimbledon has been cancelled this year due to the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic.

Having already ruled out playing in front of empty stands or attempting to take advantage of the postponement of the Olympics by shifting Wimbledon to a later start date, the organisers decided that the 134th staging of Wimbledon will instead take place from June 28 to July 11, 2021.

This is the first time since World War II that Wimbledon will not be played, and it is expected that the Davis Cup finals, which are scheduled to take place in Madrid, Spain, in November, will suffer a similar fate. However, as things stand, the US Open remains set to start as scheduled on August 24 in New York — the hardest city hit by the COVID-19 outbreak in the USA.

The go-ahead for the US Open comes even though by next week, the National Tennis Center is slated to be converted into a field hospital to treat coronavirus patients.

But what of the other major sports leagues that were suspended and initially scheduled to restart in April 2020?

Radical plans to conclude the English Premier League season emerged last weekend, where teams would be placed in self-isolation camps during June and July and play multiple televised games behind closed doors. The 92 remaining fixtures in England's topflight would be played in what is being described as a 'TV mega-event' that would see the season being completed around mid-July.

It was also reported that clubs might be allowed to extend their squads beyond 25 players to deal with the added demand for games.

This proposal comes in response to the financial pressure which has been placed upon the Premier League and its clubs, with both bodies standing to gain significantly from the relevant broadcasting deals in place. Additionally, these plans have allegedly received support from some in the Government who think the sport could unite a nation during continued lockdown — We await the final decision

The 2019-20 season of La Liga was proving to be one of the best yet before it was postponed on March 12. After match day 27, two points separated league leaders Barcelona and Real Madrid. Meanwhile, the race for Champions League spots were hotly contested as five points were the difference between third-place Sevilla and seventh-place Valencia.

Play was scheduled to resume on April 5 but, with the current state of the COVID-19 outbreak in Spain, a restart will not happen anytime soon, and the season may need to be abandoned.

If the season is unable to resume, Barcelona would not be crowned champions as it would be deemed unfair to all other competitors. This includes the teams at the bottom of the table where Espanyol sits in last place, six points from safety. In 19th place is Leganes, three points from safety, and Mallorca is one point from safety — the outcome will be interesting.

The other first-division football leagues in Europe are in a similar state as the coronavirus situation is showing little to no improvement with Italy, Spain, Germany and France having the unenviable record of documenting the top-six confirmed cases — USA #1 and China #4 being the others. And this extends to the Champion League, which has been suspended “until further notice.”

The postponement of sports in Italy 'officially' ends on April 3, but the most likely restart (if any) for them and the rest of Europe wouldn't be before mid-May or June.

The 2019-20 NBA season began an indefinite pause on March 11 after Utah Jazz centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. Commissioner Adam Silver initially said that the suspension would last at least 30 days, but a mid-to-late-June return is now looking like a best-case scenario.

The NBA continues to be hopeful that there will be a resumption of some part of the season. Still, the uncertainty surrounding the league's ability to fulfill its full 82-game regular season will ultimately be a financial cost that's shared among owners and players.

There have been discussions surrounding the NBA cancelling the remainder of its regular season and create a tournament for lower-seeded teams to have an opportunity to enter the post-season. The play-off format would then be a best-of-five series for the first round, before moving to a one-and-done tournament to determine the two teams that will play in the NBA finals, which would also be a best-of-five.

These plans are unprecedented, and it is left to be seen what the final decision will be.

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