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Coronavirus Severely Impacts Sporting Events Across the Globe


FILE - This handout photograph released by UEFA March 10, 2020, shows Valencia CF and Atalanta players competing for the ball in a stadium without spectators due to coronacirus fears, at Estadio Mestalla, in Valencia, Spain.
FILE - This handout photograph released by UEFA March 10, 2020, shows Valencia CF and Atalanta players competing for the ball in a stadium without spectators due to coronacirus fears, at Estadio Mestalla, in Valencia, Spain.

The Tokyo metropolitan government announced on Friday that it would postpone the opening of the Olympic aquatics center, planed for March 22, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, Japanese Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto says Japan and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are not considering canceling or postponing the Tokyo Summer Games.

Speaking at a regular news conference Friday, Hashimoto said that despite U.S. President Donald Trump's suggestion, officials “are proceeding with preparations for safe and secure games as planned toward the opening day of July 24."

A Japanese top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Trump spoke for about 50 minutes Friday about the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues, but he did not confirm or deny whether the two leaders discussed Trump's Olympic comments. Both sides agreed to continue to cooperate on the Summer Olympics, Suga said.

U.S. President Donald Trump had suggested Thursday that perhaps the summer Olympics in Tokyo in July should be delayed for a year, although Japanese officials have rejected the idea in recent days as unnecessary.

The Tokyo Marathon earlier this month, however, was restricted to elite runners.
Mount Everest has been shut down for climbing as both China and Nepal suspended permits. Nepal has also blocked climbing on all mountains in the country.

Meanwhile, sporting events around the world are being significantly impacted by the deadly coronavirus.

The German soccer league has proposed canceling games from Tuesday until April 2.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has decided to postpone the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 tournament until April 15. The cricket tournament was scheduled to begin on March 29.

The Australian Formula One Grand Prix, the first race of the new Formula One season, to be held in the city Melbourne has been canceled due to concerns over the coronavirus. Officials said the event could perhaps proceed “at some later stage.” The rest of the Formula One schedule is not certain.

La Liga, the top men's professional football division in Spain, suspended play for the next two weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak after one of Real Madrid's basketball players tested positive. The entire Real Madrid football squad has been placed on quarantine.

Next week's world figure skating championships in Montreal were canceled on Wednesday.

In the U.S., the Professional Golfers' Association of America (PGA) Tour announced Thursday evening that it was canceling the Players Championship. It came after being criticized by its own players for not properly responding to coronavirus pandemic. The first round of The Players was held earlier Thursday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. The PGA also canceled the Valspar Championship, scheduled for March 19-22 in Palm Harbor, Florida; the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play, scheduled for March 27-29 in Austin, Texas; and the Valero Texas Open, scheduled for April 2-5 in San Antonio.

The BNP Paribas Open, a major tennis tournament, was called off in California this week.

The National Basketball Association suspended its season on Wednesday after one of its players, Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz, tested positive for coronavirus just days after he made fun of the illness and touched the microphones of reporters who were interviewing him. Later, a second Jazz player, Donovan Mitchell, reportedly tested positive for the illness.

Major league soccer and hockey have also suspended their seasons for at least 30 days. Major league baseball canceled the rest of spring training and delayed the start of its season, scheduled for March 26, for at least two weeks.

Meanwhile, college athletic officials in the U.S. canceled the rest of the college sports season for the spring, including the annual 68-team major college basketball tournament set to start next week, a three-week event watched by thousands of fans across the country.

Several collegiate league tournaments scheduled this week leading up to the national tournament were called off even after preliminary games had been played.