Coronavirus disrupts international sports events throughout China

People wearing protective masks walk on a pedestrian bridge on Wednesday in Hong Kong.
People wearing protective masks walk on a pedestrian bridge on Wednesday in Hong Kong. The coronavirus outbreak has forced officials to cancel or postpone a number of sporting events scheduled throughout China.
(Anthony Kwan / Getty Images)

The coronavirus outbreak is forcing sports officials to cancel or postpone a string of major events scheduled throughout China in the next few weeks.

On Wednesday, the international track federation announced it would postpone the world indoor championships, scheduled to take place in Nanjing in mid-March.

“The advice from our medical team, who are in contact with the World Health Organization, is that the spread of the coronavirus both within China and outside the country is still at a concerning level and no one should be going ahead with any major gathering that can be postponed,” officials said in a statement.

Hours earlier, international ski officials cited similar concerns in postponing World Cup races at the new Olympic course in Yanqing.

“Although the risk level in Yanqing is low, the health and welfare of the athletes and all participants must take priority,” said Gian Franco Kasper, president of the International Ski Federation. “It is also imperative that athletes can focus on their performance and particularly on the completely new and very challenging course.”

New dates for the downhill and super-G events, which were supposed to be held in mid-February, have yet to be announced.


The move follows a similar decision by the international field hockey federation, which postponed matches between the Chinese and Belgian national teams in Changzhou. Officials said they will continue “monitoring the evolution of the situation closely and following the recommendations of the World Health Organization.”

Olympic qualifiers in boxing, women’s soccer and women’s basketball have been shifted to other continents. It remains to be seen if the virus will affect additional events.

China is scheduled to host a Formula One Grand Prix race.

The Chinese government has worked desperately to contain the respiratory virus, which is focused primarily in the city of Wuhan and has killed more than 130 people in the last two months.