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Coronavirus: Impact on Sporting Events, Spectators, and Athletes Alike

by Danielle Chevalier 3/16/20 14:22 CST

The coronavirus has left both the United States and the world in a state upheaval, interrupting  normal day to day life. The virus has spread to over 100 locations internationally, and more cases are arising in the United States.

While most daily routines in the United States remain intact as of now, we are still already experiencing the effects of the virus in the sporting world. Some tournaments and matches have been cancelled altogether, while others remain scheduled but are disallowing fans from watching live, or are postponed. Even college athletes are experiencing the effects; universities are closing their doors to both academics and sports.


Current Effects on Sporting Events

With the progression of the coronavirus, an arising theme in response has arisen in the sporting community. Events are either being cancelled entirely, or are not permitting fans to watch the games in-person.

Cancelled events include, but aren’t limited to, the Indian Wells tennis tournament, the Ivy League’s spring practices and competitions, and the NBA. On Wednesday March 11th, the NBA made the decision to suspend the rest of the season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus. In a statement, the league explained to fans that “The N.B.A. will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic”.

The NCAA, which originally only closed its doors to spectators, has decided to completely cancel all spring and winter championships. On Wednesday March 11th, the NCAA president Mark Emmert issued a statement disallowing fans to events, but planned to move forward with the event. However, about a day later, Emmert and the board voted unanimously to cancel all proceedings with the NCAA.

Other events, including the MBA, French Open, Kentucky Derby, esports tournaments, Nascar, and Formula One have all postponed their proceedings and seasons for the time being. The Copa America 2020 and Euro 2020 soccer tournaments will both be postponed until 2021 due to the virus.


Spectators Disallowed to Live Games and Events

Soccer games across Europe are not allowing fans to watch matches and tournaments. Italy, where the coronavirus is hitting particularly hard and has additionally ordered all shops and restaurants to close, has announced that many Series A matches would be played without fans being present.

The Olympic torch lighting ceremony, held in Greece for the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympics, will be held with no spectators. In a statement released by the Greece committee, they concluded that “The Olympic Flame Touch Ceremony will be held without the presence of spectators and will be attended by only 100 guests with accreditation from the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee”.


Athletes Unable to Compete with Coronavirus Precautions

Over 100 colleges have already cancelled in-person classes, opting for online courses, in an unprecedented response to the virus. Many major universities, including Harvard, have already canceled sporting events following university closures. While many colleges are still planning on moving forward with regularly scheduled sporting events, they are cautiously looking at the news and progression of the virus to determine the next steps. 

Despite the encouraging ability to resume playing their sports, college coaches remain weary. Badgers coach Mark Johnson captured the emotions of the athletes in a statement: ”The most important thing is the first step — we get to play. It would have been devastating if all of a sudden they said you can’t play. Then it’s hard because everybody works for a long time to get in this position. And then to have it pulled away from you, that would be really devastating”.

While the effects of the coronavirus on sports have already been apparent on an international scale, it’s hard to determine just how deeply it will continue to affect the community. We at W2GG will continue to track the progression of the virus’s effects on the sporting world. Our passion for sports and the community preservers through these uncertain times, and we implore you to share your thoughts and broaden the discussion with us on our Twitter page.

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