China rules out hosting most international sport in 2020
BEIJING (Agencies): China will not hold most international sporting events for the rest of 2020 as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, the government said Thursday, dealing a potential blow to the likes of Formula One and tennis.
Shanghai’s sports authority recently said that it had been offered two Formula One races this year, while several tournaments in China are on the revised tennis calendar. But China — where coronavirus emerged late last year before spreading globally — appears to have ruled out many of those now happening, despite local infections dwindling markedly.
The General Administration of Sport (GAS) said in a statement that, except for Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic test events “and other important events, in principle, no other international sports events will be held this year”.
China’s highest sporting authority did not specify which competitions will be hit, but the official Xinhua news agency said that “lots of international sport events will be affected”. This year’s global sporting calendar has been badly disrupted by the pandemic, with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Euro 2020 football pushed back to next summer.
China was earmarked to host a number of tennis tournaments later this year in a revised schedule. That includes the WTA Wuhan Open in October — the central city was the original epicentre of the pandemic and staging the annual tournament would be hugely symbolic. The fate of the Wuhan Open and season-ending WTA Finals has now been thrown into grave doubt, along with the prestigious ATP Shanghai Masters which would usually take place in the autumn.
The Chinese Super League (CSL) football season was due to kick off on February 22 but became one of the earliest sporting victims of the pandemic when it was indefinitely postponed in January.
The CSL will now begin on July 25 under a different format in which the 16 teams will be split into two groups located in two cities to stop any infections spreading. It follows the return of the Chinese Basketball Association competition last month — the first major league to return to action in the country following the coronavirus outbreak. Like in the CBA, CSL games will take place behind closed doors.