Sports World Beaten by Coronavirus - Updated!
The Masters, NASCAR and International Soccer Postpone Seasons and Events
March 12, 2020
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has abruptly slammed the brakes on the sports world over the past week. It has forced emergency measures to be taken by the major professional sports organizations across the nation, followed by the NCAA. Many have had to suspend their seasons and alter related programs due to the spread of the virus that has arrested the world's attention.
UPDATE - March 13, 2013: More cards fell on Friday due to further monitoring of the COVID-19 virus worldwide. The Masters Tournament, European soccer, NASCAR and IndyCar moved to postpone events and suspend seasons until further notice. The PGA Tour cancelled the Players Championship despite having started Round 1, Thursday morning at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida.
Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, Fred Ridley, released this official statement Friday morning: "On Wednesday, March 4, we issued a memo stating that our plans to host the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals had not changed. Unfortunately, the ever-increasing risks associated with the widespread coronavirus COVID-19 have led us to a decision that undoubtedly will be disappointing to many, although I am confident is appropriate under these unique circumstances.
"Considering the latest information and expert analysis, we have decided at this time to postpone the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals. Ultimately, the health and well-being of everyone associated with these events and the citizens of the Augusta community led us to this decision. We hope this postponement puts us in the best position to safely host the Masters Tournament and our amateur events at some later date.
"We will continue to work with the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Office of the Governor, the Georgia Department of Public Health, the City of Augusta and all other local authorities. We are grateful to all of these entities for their exceptional efforts and guidance. We recognize this decision will affect many people, including our loyal patrons. Your patience as we make every effort to communicate effectively and efficiently is appreciated, and we will share any additional information as soon as it becomes available. Updates also will be posted to our website, Masters.com. As COVID-19 continues to impact the lives of people everywhere, we seek your understanding of this decision and know you share our concern given these trying times. Thank you for your faithful support." Signed: Fred S. Ridley, Chairman, Augusta National Golf Club.
NASCAR released their statement on Friday morning, as well: "NASCAR has decided to postpone the race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend and Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend. We believe this decision is in the best interest of the safety and well-being of our fans, competitors, officials and everyone associated with our sport. We will continue to monitor this dynamic situation as we assess future race events.”
PremierLeague.com stated the Premier League, FA, EFL and WSL agreed to postpone soccer in England: "Following a meeting of Shareholders today, it was unanimously decided to suspend the Premier League with the intention of returning on 4 April, subject to medical advice and conditions at the time. Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said: "Above all, we wish Mikel Arteta and Callum Hudson-Odoi speedy recoveries, and everyone else affected by COVID-19. "In this unprecedented situation, we are working closely with our clubs, Government, The FA and EFL and can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority." Despite the challenges, it is the Premier League's aim to reschedule the displaced fixtures, including those played by Academy sides, when it is safe to do so. In this fast-moving environment, further updates will be provided when appropriate."
Here are some major announcements addressing the coronavirus as of Thursday, March 12:
Los Angeles Football Club released this statement announcing the suspension of the MLS season and the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League match: "Tonight's CCL Quarterfinal Match Against Cruz Azul Has Been Suspended: Today, Major League Soccer announced the league has suspended match play for 30 days effective immediately. Additionally, Concacaf has suspended the 2020 Concacaf Champions League immediately, and tonight's LAFC game against Cruz Azul at Banc of California Stadium will be rescheduled for a future date to be determined.
"The health and safety of our fans and supporters, employees and players are the top priority of our Club. These decisions were made by MLS and Concacaf together with public health and medical professionals to discourage and limit large gatherings due to COVID-19. Information for fans who have already purchased tickets for upcoming LAFC matches: LAFC Season Ticket Members/Ticket Buyers: Tickets for Thursday's quarterfinal match against Cruz Azul will be honored when the tournament resumes. Tickets for the March 22 match against Portland Timbers (and any other MLS matches affected) will be honored for when the game is rescheduled. For further questions and information, contact LAFC at email@example.com."
Major League Soccer officially announced on Thursday morning: "Major League Soccer has suspended match play for 30 days, effective immediately, as the league continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 with its medical task force and public health officials. At the appropriate time, the league and clubs will communicate plans for the continuation of the 2020 season and update the status of league events."
MLS.com quoted MLS Commissioner Don Garber: "Our clubs were united today in the decision to temporarily suspend our season based on the advice and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), and other public health authorities, and in the best interest of our fans, players, officials and employees,"
Major League Baseball updated their coronavirus policy this afternoon: "Following a call with the 30 Clubs, and after consultation with the Major League Baseball Players Association, Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. today announced that MLB has decided to suspend Spring Training games and to delay the start of the 2020 regular season by at least two weeks due to the national emergency created by the coronavirus pandemic. This action is being taken in the interests of the safety and well-being of our players, Clubs and our millions of loyal fans."
This was the official NBA statement released on Wednesday, March 11: "The NBA announced that a player on the Utah Jazz has preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of Wednesday's game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. At that time, Wednesday's game was canceled. The affected player was not in the arena. The NBA is suspending game play following the conclusion of Wednesday's schedule of games until further notice. The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic."
The seriousness of this health issue was evident by Rudy Gobert's apology Thursday afternoon, the player the NBA was referring to. Jazz teammate Donovan Mitchell also tested positive for having the virus. "I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of concern and support over the last 24 hours. I have gone through so many emotions since learning of my diagnosis...mostly fear, anxiety, and embarrassment.
"The first and most important thing is I would like to publicly apologize to the people that I may have endangered. At the time, I had no idea I was even infected. I was careless and make no excuse. I hope my story serves as a warning and causes everyone to take this seriously. I will do whatever I can to support using my experience as way to educate others and prevent the spread of this virus. I am under great care and will fully recover. Thank you again for all your support. I encourage everyone to take all of the steps to stay safe and healthy. Love."
The NHL also released this statement on Thursday: "The NHL has been attempting to follow the mandates of health experts and local authorities, while preparing for any possible developments without taking premature or unnecessary measures. However, following last night's news that an NBA player has tested positive for coronavirus, and given that our leagues share so many facilities and locker rooms and it now seems likely that some member of the NHL community would test positive at some point, it is no longer appropriate to try to continue to play games at this time."
On Thursday, the National Football League made their announcement concerning the virus: "NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell notified the clubs today that after careful consideration and consultation with medical experts, the NFL's annual meeting scheduled for March 29-April 1 has been canceled.
"There will be full consideration and votes on any open football issues, including playing rules, bylaws, and resolutions, as well as other business matters that were on the agenda for the Annual Meeting, at the Spring Meeting scheduled for May 19-20. Most of the first day will be dedicated to football-related issues. Head coaches and general managers will participate in the meeting. This decision was made consistent with the league's primary concern to protect the health of club and league employees and the public while enabling the league to continue with its essential business operations. We will continue to closely monitor developments, consults with leading experts, and be prepared to make any changes necessary as circumstances warrant."
Capping it all off on Thursday afternoon, the NCAA addressed the upcoming NCAA Women's and Men's Basketball Championships: "Today, NCAA President Mark Emmert and the Board of Governors canceled the Division I men's and women's 2020 basketball tournaments, as well as all remaining winter and spring NCAA championships. This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities."
In college hockey, four of five Division I men's hockey conferences announced tournament cancellations: "Atlantic Hockey, ECAC, Hockey East, NCHC and WCHA have officially announced the cancellations of their Division I men's ice hockey tournaments due to concerns over the coronavirus. The Big Ten hockey tournament, scheduled to continue Saturday with the semifinals, has not been cancelled yet."
The NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships scheduled for March 13-14 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. was also affected as the NCAA announced on twitter Thursday morning: "At the direction of the NCAA COVID-19 Advisory Panel, the decision has been made to NOT allow any spectators, including family, to attend the NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships. The decision has been made to limit the attendance to 1/3 of the venue capacity and based on the number of coaches, participants and necessary personnel we hit that number."