‘I can’t see a solution’: Inter Milan CEO warns that coronavirus crisis could mean Serie A season FAILS to finish as five more top flight fixtures fall in Italy
- Thirty have died among more than 1,100 coronavirus cases in northern Italy
- Sporting events including Serie A matches have been banned across the region
- The clash between title rivals Inter Milan and Juventus was called off on Saturday
- Inter chief Giuseppe Marotta has spoken of his worries with Euro 2020 looming
The Serie A season runs the risk of not finishing if more matches are postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak, Inter Milan chief executive Giuseppe Marotta said on Sunday.
Inter’s match at Juventus, which was to have been played later on Sunday, was one of five which were postponed by Serie A on Saturday. The games, all in regions where sporting events have been banned by the government, had initially been due to be played behind closed doors.
Italy has registered more than 1,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus since the contagion came to light in wealthy northern regions on Feb. 20 and at least 30 people have died.
Many fans have worn masks when games have kicked off as the coronavirus has halted Serie A
Ludogorets players took precautions when they visited Inter in the Europa League on Thursday
Inter’s match at home to Sampdoria was one of four which were postponed last Sunday and Marotta said a crowded fixture list meant they were running out of dates to reschedule the games.
‘If more matches are called off then, yes, we run that risk,’ Marotta told Gazzetta dello Sport when asked if the championship might not finish.
He added that, because some matches had been postponed and others had not, the ‘balance of the championship has been altered.’
‘It’s a distorted tournament,’ added Marotta. ‘You just need to think of injuries and suspensions. And there is the psychological aspect when you look at the standings.’
Inter played the second leg of their European tie in the eerie atmosphere of an empty San Siro
Third-placed Inter’s two postponements have caused them to drop eight points behind leaders Lazio who have played and won two games during the same period. Lazio’s matches – away to Genoa last Sunday and at home to Bologna on Saturday – were in regions unaffected by coronavirus.
‘I am worried about Inter’s game against Sassuolo next Sunday,’ admitted Marotta. ‘How do we deal with that?
‘We can’t play behind closed doors because it would be absurd to use a measure one week that we didn’t use the week before… I can’t see a solution.’
Serie A president Paolo Dal Pino told the ANSA news agency: ‘Marotta represents the needs of Inter, I protect the general interests of the entire Serie A which unfortunately suffers daily conflicts of interest linked to each team.
‘I have to promote the Italian league and its image in the world; broadcasting matches in empty stadiums would have been a bad business card for the country.’
The Serie A season is scheduled to run until May 24, with Euro 2020 due to start on June 12.
Two Inter matches have been among a procession of postponements that have skewed Serie A
HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR
2020 OLYMPIC GAMES
The scale of the outbreak in Japan saw senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound describe the disease as ‘the new war’ threatening Tokyo 2020 and he warned the Games may have to be cancelled if the virus was still around by May.
Olympic organisers told athletes to train as normal with no decision on cancellation
The Japanese government later insisted Pound’s comments were not the IOC’s official stance but there remains doubts over whether the summer showcase can still go ahead with health concerns.
Athletes have been told to keep training and the plan remains to hold the Games in Japan as planned but training for around 80,000 volunteers has been delayed for at least two months- it was due to begin on February 22.
World Athletics Indoor Championships (March 13-15 in Nanjing) is off until 2021.
The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, has been postponed due to concerns over the danger of the coronavirus and its ability to spread
North Korea cancelled the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April after imposing a border lockdown due to the level of outbreak in South Korea.
The Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners following the mass outbreak in South Korea.
The Paris half-marathon is canceled and the French government also decided to ban all indoor public gatherings of more than 5,000 people.
The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday (March 1) in the French capital city. Organizers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.
A mixed relay Olympic triathlon qualification event scheduled for Chengdu, China in May is moved to Valencia, pending an outbreak in Spain.
German Open (March 3-8), Vietnam Open (March 24-29) and Polish Open (March 26-29), all Olympic qualifying events, are cancelled due to ‘strict health protection’.
Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, and now are relocated to occur in Amman from March 3-11
The IBF title fight between Daniele Scardina and Andrew Francillette in Milan on February 28 was postponed by Matchroom due to restrictions in Italy following the outbreak.
The Japanese boxing commission cancelled all fight cards scheduled for March on government advice to suspend all pending sporting fixtures. They will not be rescheduled.
Danish cyclist Michael Morkov has been cleared to race at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships after being kept in isolation over fears of an outbreak of coronavirus.
Morkov, 34, had travelled to Berlin on Thursday after contesting the first four stages of the UAE Tour, the final two stages of which were then cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease.
Riders and staff on the UAE Tour have been in lockdown since but, after the Abu Dhabi Department of Health issued a statement on Saturday saying 167 tests had come back negative, the UCI said Morkov was free to race as normal.
Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation
All domestic fixtures at all levels are postponed by the Chinese Football Association as the season is pushed back due to the scale of the outbreak in China.
Asian Champions League matches involving Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua and Shanghai SIPG are postponed until April.
The start of the Korean K-League season is postponed. The four teams in the AFC Champions League playing their matches behind closed doors.
Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy
Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March.
Inter Milan’s game against Sampdoria was one of four Serie A games cancelled last weekend due to affected regions in Italy leading to advice from the prime minister to call off sporting events.
Serie A then announced on Saturday that five of this weekend’s fixtures, including the title showdown between Juventus and Inter Milan, have been cancelled.
The home leg of the Chinese women’s national team’s Olympic qualification play-off against South Korea set for March is switched to Sydney. The squad are held in quarantine upon their arrival in Australia for January’s qualifying group stage due to fears of virus carriers.
Inter Milan’s Europa League match against Ludogorets on February 27 will be played behind closed doors. Only TV rights-holders are allowed to attend as media as the club look to secure the San Siro. Ludogorets players arrived in Italy wearing face masks.
Serie A announced five matches on February 28-March 1 will be played behind closed doors, including Juventus v Inter Milan in Turin, a huge match between title rivals.
Newcastle United have banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears.
Three players from third-division Italian football club US Pianese have tested positive for coronavirus, the Tuscany side confirmed on Friday.
England’s friendly against Italy at Wembley in March is now in doubt as the FA holds crisis talks following the outbreak in northern Italy.
Israel has warned citizens to avoid all international travel, which raises questions whether supporters or players will travel to Scotland for their Euro 2020 play-off match on March 26.
Growing concerns that some matches at Euro 2020 could be called off if the coronavirus outbreak gets worse between now and the summer. The tournament is set to be multi-city. UEFA admit they are in a ‘waiting stage’ and must follow the orders of the individual countries involved. However, FA Chairman Greg Clarke has stated that he expects the tournament to go ahead.
The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 is postponed with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season.
The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead
The Australian Grand Prix will go ahead despite an emergency response plan being enacted across the country to deal with the virus. The chief executive of the tourism council says that Victoria cannot afford for the event to be cancelled.
The Bahrain Grand Prix is still planned to go ahead despite a number of flights from Dubai and the UAE into the country being cancelled this week due to coronavirus fears.
There are growing concerns over whether the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix (scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5) will go ahead.
The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific golf championship, slated to take place from February 12-15 in Thailand, was postponed and has been rescheduled for October.
The Honda LPGA Thailand event in Pattaya, Thailand scheduled for February 20-23 along with the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore, scheduled to start on February 27, were both postponed
The PGA Tour Series-China postponed two qualifying tournaments and delayed the start of its 2020 campaign by two months, cutting the number of regular season events down from 14 to 10.
The decision was made to cancel the LPGA Blue Bay tournament in China, with the event at Hainan Island (due to start on March 5) seen as dangerous to players’ health
The European Tour postponed the Maybank Championship (April 16-19 in Kuala Lumpur) and Volvo China Open (April 23-26 in Shenzhen).
Lorenzo Gagli and Edoardo Molinari were withdrawn from the Oman Open on medical grounds after Gagli showed symptoms of the virus. He shared a hotel room with Molinari and he was told to self-isolate. They were later reinstated to the tournament after testing negative for the virus.
The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go behind closed doors.
Two race meetings in France next week are to take place behind closed doors in a response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Monday’s jumps card and the Wednesday fixture on the Flat at Compiegne will have no paying customers, with the order coming from the mayor of the town and the president of the Compiegne Racing Society.
Cheltenham festival is in doubt as organisers set up a steering group to consider the danger posed by the virus, just 13 days prior to the prestigious Gold Cup event
The Cheltenham Festival is set to go ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus
Scotland Women’s Six Nations match with Italy on February 23 is postponed due to an outbreak in the Milan area.
Ireland’s Six Nations meeting with Italy on March 7 is postponed.
Ospreys and Ulster’s Pro14 trips to play in Italy on February 29 are postponed. Ospreys were due to play Zebre in Parma with Treviso the venue for Ulster’s game against Benetton.
Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed
The Italian Rugby Federation suspended its National Championship and youth games for February 28-March 1.
Hong Kong Rugby Sevens is postponed, which is a blow to Olympic preparations for Team GB.
Scottish rugby announced preparations ‘continue as normal’ as they discuss with French rugby whether to proceed with their Six Nations match on March 8 following a second coronavirus death in France.
All of Italy’s remaining Six Nations fixtures – they are due to host England in their final game on March 14 – are in serious doubt given the scale of the outbreak in Italy
The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine is cancelled. Both players received ranking points and prize money for getting to the final. They were denied the opportunity to play behind closed doors.
China forfeited a Davis Cup tie because the men’s team were unable to travel to Romania for the March 6-7 playoff.
WTA event Xi’an Open (set for April 13-19) is cancelled due to fears over player safety. WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.
Japan’s home Davis Cup tie against Ecuador next week is now set to be played behind closed doors.
WTA event Kunming Open is considered for cancellation after Xi’an Open was called off. It is due to start on April 27.
Cycling’s United Arab Emirates Tour has been cancelled with Chris Froome tested for coronavirus and Mark Cavendish put into lockdown in his hotel room.
South Korean baseball league cancelled all 50 pre-season game which were slated to take place from March 14-24. It is the first time since the leagues inception in 1982 that an entire set of exhibition matches are off.
The first-stage draw for the Table Tennis World Championships, scheduled for South Korea from March 22-29, is postponed.
A beach volleyball tournament, due to be held in Yangzhou from April 22-26, is postponed until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
World Short track speed skating championship in Seoul is cancelled.
Next month’s World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed on Saturday as a precautionary measure.
The event was due to take place from March 5 to March 7 in the city, which has reported new cases of the virus.
Event organisers said they still hoped to reschedule the event to take place later in March or April.
All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors
The Japanese professional baseball league made the decision to play their 72 pre-season games behind closed doors until March 15. Baseball is among the most popular sports in Japan.
The South Korean baseball league regular season is in doubt ahead of the first round of matches on March 28. An emergency meeting has been called.
Doubts remain as the Asian weightlifting championships, scheduled for March, are relocated from Kazakhstan to neighbouring Uzbekistan. They could still be postponed.
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