Could the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo be cancelled? All the sporting events impacted by Covid-19

As coronavirus continues to spread across the world it’s having a knock-on effect on business - from manufacturing to film-making and sporting events.

Companies like Apple and Nike have seen profits hit, while production of major films like the latest Mission Impossible have been delayed due to the virus.

Around the world, sporting events of all kinds have also been delayed, altered and cancelled in an attempt to stop the virus’ spread.

Even this summer’s Olympic Games now look as if they could be under threat. Here’s how coronavirus is expected to impact major sporting events in 2020.

2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo

The Tokyo Olympic Games are scheduled to begin on 24 July 2020 but plans could be in jeopardy as Japan struggles to deal with the virus.

While China has been by far the worst-affected part of Asia, Japan has also reported over 150 cases of the disease, with four deaths so far. Three of the reported cases occurred in Tokyo itself.

Dick Pound, a senior member of the International Olympics Committee has recently suggested that, rather than being postponed or relocated, the games could be cancelled altogether if Tokyo is deemed to be unsafe.

He said: “Folks are going to have to ask is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or not?” If the answer is no, he believes that “you’re probably looking at a cancelation.”

The former swimmer said a decision would need to be made within the next few months.

The official budget for the games has been cited as around £10 billion, although the Board of Audit of Japan has suggested that the true cost may actually be more like double that figure.


All sport in Italy has been suspended until at least 3 April, which includes the Serie A.

However games may go ahead behind closed doors and the ban will not prevent Italian teams from competing in international competitions. One of the biggest games of the season so far, Juventus versus Inter Milan, has already been played in an empty stadium.

In the final Serie A game played before the ban was announced, Sassuolo's Francesco Caputo celebrated his goal by holding up a note which read "Everything will be OK. Stay at home

On Monday 9 March, France issued a ban on public gatherings of more than 1,000 people - meaning football matches will either have to severley limit attendances or shut out the fans altogether if they are to go ahead.

Paris St-Germain's Champions League last-16 match against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday 11 March is set to go ahead behind closed doors.

Greece also has banned spectators for a two-week period.

On Monday 9 March, FIFA announced that it would be postponing the Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup.

The Chinese women’s international team’s game against South Korea was played in Australia, with the squads placed in quarantine upon arrival.


The Six Nations match between Ireland and France which was to take place on Saturday 14 March has been suspended. This follows Italy's games against England and Ireland also having been postponed.

The Scotland women’s side’s Six Nations game against Italy was also postponed due to the outbreak of the disease in the north of Italy, as was the game against France. The Scots game against Wales has now also been moved after a Scottish player tested positive for the virus.

Osprey and Ulster’s Pro14 teams also both saw their trips to Italy postponed

The World Rugby Sevens Series saw the Hong Kong and Singapore legs of the competition postponed from April until October.

Osprey and Ulster’s Pro14 teams also both saw their trips to Italy postponed

The World Rugby Sevens Series saw the Hong Kong and Singapore legs of the competition postponed from April until October.


The women’s Xi’an Open was cancelled after it was due to take place in April. It is still scheduled to take place in China some time in the second half of the season.

Meanwhile, China’s men’s team was forced to forfeit a Davis Cup match after they were unable to travel to Romania for it.

The International Tennis Federation moved Asia/Oceania Group I stage of the Fed Cup from China to Kazakhstan and then later to Dubai after Kazakhstan declined to act as hosts.

The World Table Tennis Championship was also scheduled to take place in South Korea in March but has been postponed until June instead.

Tokyo Marathon

The mass race scheduled for 1 March has now been reduced to only feature around 200 elite athletes.

The event had previously been expected to attract some 38,000 participants but it was decided that an event of this scale could not safely be undertaken while Tokyo tries to combat the virus.

With the decision coming a mere 13 days before the race, many were disappointed to find that, while they could choose to defer their place until next year, their fees would not be refunded and they would have to pay again to compete in 2021.

As well as being a major public event, the Tokyo Marathon functions as the trial for Japan’s Olympic runners.


The Blue Bay tournament, scheduled to be played on Hainan Island in March, was cancelled.

The Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship will take place in Thailand as planned but it has been moved from February to October.

Also in Thailand, the Honda LPGA event has been postponed, as has the HSBC Women’s Championship in Singapore.

The PGA Tour Series-China has been forced to postpone two qualifying tournaments. It has also delayed the start of its 2020 campaign by two months, reducing the number of regular season tournaments from 14 to 10.

The European Tour’s Maybank Championship and the Volvo China Open have also both been postponed, having been initially scheduled for April.

Other events

One Championship, the MMA event scheduled to take place in Singapore at the end of February, will now be held behind closed doors.

The Asian Weightlifting Championships have been moved from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan.

The Chinese team has been forced to pull out of the 2020 Gymnastics World Cup which is being held in Australia.

In basketball, the Fiba Asia Cup qualifying games which were set to involve Japan, China, Thailand, Philippines and Malaysia have all been postponed.

In Formula One, the Chinese Grand Prix has been postponed. It was due to take place in Shanghai and may go ahead later in the year if circumstances improve.

In badminton, after several players withdrew from the China Masters tournament in Hainan, the competition was postponed.

The World Athletics Indoor Championships, scheduled to take place in Nanjing this March, have instead been put on hold until 2021.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, The Scotsman.

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