Home Sports News Golf’s Masters postponed, EPL suspended as coronavirus wreaks sporting havoc

Golf’s Masters postponed, EPL suspended as coronavirus wreaks sporting havoc

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LONDON                       –              Golf’s jewel in the crown The Masters and England’s top-flight soccer league joined the ever-lengthening list of elite sporting events to fall foul of the coronavirus pandemic on Friday.

Few dates on the global sporting calendar are as keenly-anticipated as the Augusta National showpiece, but organisers have moved swiftly to postpone golf’s opening major which was due to be played between April 9-12.

England’s hugely-popular Premier League announced it was suspending matches until April 4, while soccer’s European governing body UEFA said that next week’s matches in the Champions League and Europa League would not be played.

The unprecedented shutdown of world sport in response to the coronavirus spread that has infected more than 134,000 people and killed around 5,000 also prompted organisers to postpone the Formula One motor races in Vietnam and Bahrain. This weekend’s season opener in Australia was cancelled only hours before the first practice session.

England cricket players were heading home after their tour of Sri Lanka was called off on Friday, while this weekend’s Six Nations rugby match between Wales and Scotland also succumbed. France’s Top 14, the richest rugby union league in the world, was also suspended on Friday. In cycling, organisers of the Giro d’Italia said the race, due to start in Budapest on May 9, had been postponed. After two days of shutdowns and cancellations the sporting cupboard for the next two months looks bare.

On Thursday, the big American sports leagues — NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball — were all suspended, the ATP men’s tennis tour was shut down and golf’s Players Championship was abandoned after one round.

The postponement of the Masters, won in fairytale fashion by Tiger Woods last year, sent shockwaves through golf although with the PGA Tour suspended until April 5 it was not a surprise.

Britain’s government on Thursday stopped short of banning mass gatherings of people — but that decision was quickly overtaken by events as the country’s soccer leagues reacted to the fast-moving situation by putting the season on hold.

The Premier League, the richest soccer league in the world, had stood almost alone in not suspending the season, but at an emergency meeting it was decided that the fixtures would stop until April 4 at the earliest. The Football League and Women’s Super League are also suspended until April 3 while England’s friendly internationals against Italy and Denmark will not take place. All matches in Scotland are also postponed.

Arsenal’s fixture with Brighton and Hove Albion this weekend had already been postponed after manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus. Chelsea’s players were in self-isolation after forward Callum Hudson-Odoi also tested positive.

Everton, who were due to play Premier League leaders Liverpool on Monday, said one of their players was self-isolating as a coronavirus precaution.

Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A and the French Ligue 1 are all on hold and Germany’s Bundesliga followed suit on Friday.

With Europe’s top soccer leagues in limbo, the fate of this season’s Euro 2020 championship, starting in June and hosted by 12 cities, remains unclear. UEFA will hold an emergency meeting next week to discuss the fate of the tournament. Despite the spiralling impact of coronavirus, sport’s biggest showpiece, the Olympics, will still go ahead as planned, according to Tokyo organisers.

Responding to comments by US president Donald Trump that they should be delayed for a year, Japan Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto told reporters: “The IOC and 2020 organisers are not at all considering cancelling or postponing the Games.” Hours later the torch relay through Greece was cancelled after fears that unexpectedly large crowds on the route could spread the coronavirus.

 

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