Chris Woakes happy for Alex Hales to make England return

Pace bowler Chris Woakes says he would be happy to see Alex Hales return to the England side.

Batsman Hales has not played for England since being removed from the World Cup squad in May 2019 for an “off-field incident”, reportedly failing a drugs test.

“We all try to pull in the right direction,” said Woakes.

“If Alex is willing to do that then I imagine everyone would be happy to see him back playing for England.”

Cricket is set to return from the coronavirus shutdown in July, and England will next week name an enlarged group of about 30 players who will resume training with a view to playing Test and limited-overs matches.

  • When will cricket return – and what will it look like?
  • England bowlers resume training this week

With a revamped schedule likely to be congested, necessitating separation between the Test and limited-overs squads, England could call on 31-year-old Hales, who averages almost 38 in 70 one-day internationals.

When Hales was dropped, captain Eoin Morgan said it was because of a “complete breakdown in trust” and that the rest of the squad supported the decision.

In February, Morgan said it would take a “considerable amount of time” to regain that trust.

Woakes, 31, said: “He’s gone through a tough time, being left out of the World Cup. Going on to see that team lift the trophy must have been difficult for him.

“If people have gone away for a time and worked on their weaknesses, they should be allowed a second chance.”

Hales’ highest score of 171 was once the England record, and he was the second highest run-scorer in last winter’s edition of the Big Bash League, Australia’s domestic Twenty20 competition.

“Alex is as a world-class player,” said Woakes. “I don’t 100% know what will happen, but I’d be happy to see Alex back in England colours.”

Woakes, 31, was among the England bowlers who returned to training on Thursday, at his home ground of Edgbaston.

As part of the protocols put in place by the England and Wales Cricket Board, Woakes was required to take his own temperature, enter information into an app, arrive at the ground in his training kit and wash his hands before the session began.

He has also been given his own set of six cricket balls that no-one else will touch.

“It’s my job, so it was nice to have some form of normality by going back to training,” he said.

“It’s been two months since I last bowled, and I was a little sore this morning. The first waddle to the toilet was a bit interesting, but the body is not too bad.”

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Wayne Rooney reveals why Alex Ferguson sold Gerard Pique

Wayne Rooney reveals Man United boss Sir Alex Ferguson decided to sell Gerard Pique back to Barcelona after he was ‘bullied’ in defeat at Bolton

  • Pique struggled to get to grips with a physical Bolton side during 2007 meeting
  • Spanish centre-half mistimed a clearing header to allow Nicolas Anelka to score
  • According to Rooney, that game ended Pique’s Manchester United career
  • Ferguson decided Pique couldn’t handle Premier League rough and tumble 
  • He was sold back to Barcelona in 2008 and enjoyed great success there 

Sir Alex Ferguson decided Gerard Pique wasn’t suited for the Premier League after he was ‘bullied’ in a defeat at Bolton, according to Wayne Rooney.

The Spanish centre-back had joined Manchester United from Barcelona’s academy in 2004 and was just 20 when subjected to a physical Bolton side in November 2007.

Pique was at fault for the game’s only goal as Bolton beat United after he mistimed his jump to allow Nicolas Anelka in to score and was hooked for Anderson just before the hour mark.

Gerard Pique was sold by Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson after being ‘bullied’ in a match against Bolton in November 2007, according to Wayne Rooney

The Spanish centre-half was at fault for Bolton’s winning goal and Ferguson decided he wasn’t up to the physical challenge of the Premier League, selling him a few months later

At the end of that season, Ferguson decided to sell Pique back to Barcelona for £5million after just 23 appearances for United.

Pique went on to become a fixture in Barcelona’s defence, winning three Champions League crowns – two of which came after beating United in the final – and a host of domestic offers and Ferguson admitted he regretted selling him.

Writing in The Sunday Times, Rooney said: ‘Bolton away more or less finished Gerard Pique’s career at United.

‘He was young and got bullied there and I think that’s when Fergie decided that, physically, he wasn’t right for the Premier League.

‘I always remember [Nemanja] Vidic: If we were going to Bolton – and it was the same when he was about to face Didier Drogba – he would be in the gym for two or three days before, pumping himself up.’

Nicolas Anelka scored the game’s only goal after Pique had mistimed a clearing header

Pique made 29 appearances for United before Ferguson sold him back to Barcelona for £5m

Rooney also revealed that United’s left-back Patrice Evra wasn’t especially fond of trips to Bolton either, especially the prospect of grappling with Kevin Davies.

‘Bolton away was always horrible,’ he said. ‘It was physical and you knew you had to win the fight to win the game.

‘I remember Evra saying about Kevin Davies: ‘I hate this person.’ On throw-ins, Kevin would go and pin the full back with his elbows all over their face and in challenges when the ball went down the line he would leave his foot in.’




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Alex Ferguson warned Manchester United star not to go out in Liverpool

Sir Alex Ferguson warned his Manchester United players about going out in Liverpool, former Red Devils defender Rafael has revealed.

Fergie spent more than 25 years in the Old Trafford hot-seat, leading United to 13 Premier League titles and two Champions League wins.

Rafael, who won three domestic titles at Manchester United, has heaped praise on the legendary Scot and recalled a moment when he was warned about going out in Liverpool.

‘Sir Alex is very honest,’ Rafael, 29, told ESPN FC. ‘Everyone knows about his winning mentality but he’s a person who helps everyone.

‘But not just help like doing kind stuff all the time, also telling them the way to do things. He did that with me and my brother many times.

‘He didn’t speak with us a lot because we were quiet guys. We didn’t do a lot of silly stuff but when we did he would tell us.

‘I remember one time, I started to like horse racing. We went to the horse racing in Liverpool.

‘The next day he finds out we went there and he called me and my brother to his office and he said “look, I know you went to the horse racing, you know where you went?”

‘We said “it was in Liverpool” and he just said “be careful where you go”. We didn’t do a lot of silly stuff but he wanted to tell us to be careful what we do and where you go.’

Rafael made more than 150 appearances for Manchester United before joining Lyon in the summer of 2015.

The Red Devils were fifth in the Premier League under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when the 2019-20 season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Berbatov reveals Sir Alex Ferguson broke 'promise' as soon as he joined Man Utd

Dimitar Berbatov has revealed how Sir Alex Ferguson went back on his ‘promise’ when he joined Manchester United in 2008 by throwing him straight in against Liverpool for his debut.

The Bulgarian had been on fire in his previous two seasons with Tottenham, scoring 46 goals in all competitions, which convinced Ferguson to make a move for his signature ahead of the 2008/09 campaign.

Spurs submitted an official complaint to the Premier League over Ferguson’s incessant pursuit of Berbatov but the iconic striker went on to sign for the Red Devils on September 1 for a fee of around £31million.

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Berbatov had little time to adjust to life with his new club and made his first appearance less than a fortnight later as United were beaten 2-1 in a thrilling Premier League encounter at Anfield.

Reflecting on these opening few weeks in the north west, Berbatov told United’s official website: ‘Liverpool was the team we were trying to surpass on league titles when I got to Old Trafford. They had 18, we had 17.

‘Sir Alex was with me when we were finalising the transfer and it was so last minute, so worrying that it was happening so late, that he said: “Berba, I know it’s stressful, what you’re going through, but, when we finish this, I promise you can have a week’s break so you can get yourself together”. “Okay, that works”.

‘As soon as I signed, it was: “Okay, get ready. Next game is Liverpool.” In my head, I’m like: Where’s my one-week break?!

‘But that was all fine. As the game got closer, I could feel the excitement, the nerves, the tension.

‘You start to get more and more knowledge about the rivalry and the history between the two clubs. The expectation of winning the game, of performing, it’s important.

‘This is all building up until, on the day of the game, I stepped out on the pitch for the first time… and it was something new.’

Berbatov was denied a dream debut as second-half substitute Ryan Babel sealed all three points for Liverpool with a 77th-minute effort past fellow countryman Edwin van der Sar.

It came after an own-goal from Wes Brown which cancelled out Carlos Tevez’s early strike on Merseyside.

Despite his ties to United, Berbatov has argued against calls to void the current Premier League season as he feels it would be ‘unfair’ on Liverpool and their fans.

‘People are suggesting to give the title to Liverpool, and honestly they deserve it the way they had been playing, nobody was going to catch them,’ he told Betfair earlier this month.

‘With the way they play their games, the football they produced and how far they are in front, they fully deserve the title this season.

‘It’s so strange, and it will be unfair on Liverpool if the season is voided, they will be so disappointed.’

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Former Arsenal star Alex Song breaks his silence over Sion sacking

‘We do not understand what happened’: Former Arsenal star Alex Song breaks his silence over Sion sacking after he was one of nine players SACKED for refusing to take pay cut during coronavirus pandemic

  • Alex Song was one of nine players sacked by Swiss club Sion after they refused to take a pay cut during the coronavirus pandemic
  • Sion’s president sent the squad a WhatsApp message saying they would receive a reduced salary of around £10,750 during the crisis 
  • Former Arsenal midfielder Song and eight others failed to respond and were dismissed by the club
  • Song is now prepared to take legal action after claiming he wasn’t given time to fully work out the implications of the pay cut 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Former Arsenal midfielder Alex Song is prepared to lobby FIFA and take legal action against Swiss club Sion after they sacked him for refusing to take a pay cut amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Song and eight other players, including another ex-Arsenal player Johan Djourou, were fired after either failing to respond to a WhatsApp message to the squad from club president Christian Constantin or refusing his offer.

Constantin wanted the Sion players to take a ‘technical unemployment’ deal which would see them receive a reduced payment of around 12,000 euros (£10,750) to help the club deal with economic difficulties caused by the league season being halted. 

Former Arsenal midfielder Alex Song was sacked by Swiss club Sion – along with eight of his team-mates – after refusing to take a pay cut during the coronavirus crisis

Song, 32, has given his version of events and is prepared to take Sion to court over what he perceives to be unfair dismissal.

The former Cameroon international told RMC Sport: ‘My lawyer will take care of it, let’s go to FIFA. We will defend our rights.

‘We played a friendly on Friday (March 20) and we were supposed to meet with the president on Monday, then on Tuesday. We had no news.

‘We received a WhatsApp message on Tuesday afternoon to tell us that everyone had to sign a paper telling us that our wages were being lowered, that we were going to be paid around 12,000 euros.

‘We were to return the paper the next day at noon. We received this document without explanation.’

Song explained that he was reluctant to return this document without fully understanding its implications.

Song is prepared to take his case to FIFA and take legal action against Sion over the pay cut

The former Barcelona player added: ‘I am a footballer, it is not my job. There are people to verify that [the document]. I couldn’t sign it, we didn’t have any discussions.

‘All the clubs are talking today. Our captain didn’t know anything. We decided together not to sign this document. We wanted to talk.

‘I did not make any professional misconduct. All the clubs talk to their players to find solutions. We do not understand what happened. No one can understand.’

As well as former Arsenal pair Song and Djourou, the other players let go by Sion were Christian Zock, Pajtim Kasami, Ermir Lenjani, Xavier Kouassi, Birama Ndoye, Mikael Facchinetti and Seydou Doumbia.

They have the backing of the Swiss Players’ Union, the SAFP, which has protested their dismissals and described them as unfair.

A letter sent to Sion by the SAFP read: ‘You have terminated the employment contracts of the players without notice by letter dated 18 March, 2020. We hereby expressly protest against this termination without notice.

‘We therefore expect you to withdraw these abusive terminations immediately and to enter into discussions on possible alternatives.’

Song arrived at Sion from Russian club Rubin Kazan on a free transfer in August 2018. He had played 22 matches for the Swiss team.

Sion were third bottom of the Swiss Super League when football was suspended in the country at the end of February.  

HOW CORONAVIRUS HAS HIT THE WORLD OF SPORT SO FAR

2020 OLYMPIC GAMES  

The 2020 Olympic Games has been postponed until 2021 on March 24 – becoming one of the last major sporting events this summer to fall victim to the coronavirus.

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe held a crucial conference call with Olympics chief Thomas Bach on Tuesday to formally decide a plan and they have chosen to postpone for 12 months.

The decision also means the Tokyo Paralympic Games will be subject to a one-year delay.

Despite the delay, the name of the delayed Games will still be Tokyo 2020, the city’s governor Yuriko Koike revealed.

A joint statement from the IOC and Tokyo 2020 organising committee read: ‘In the present circumstances and based on the information provided by the WHO today, the IOC President and the Prime Minister of Japan have concluded that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.

‘The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. 

‘Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020.’ 

There was plenty of scepticism whether the Olympics would pull through and continue as scheduled while events linked to the games were called off. The Olympic torch relay in Greece was cancelled on Friday March 13 – just a day after the flame was lit in Olympia.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games have been postponed by one year due to the coronavirus

Large crowds mobbed Hollywood actor Gerard Butler as he lit the cauldron in the Greek city of Sparta despite repeated warnings for spectators not to attend because of coronavirus.

That forced the decision by the Greek Olympic Committee to halt the torch relay on Greek soil on just the second day of its scheduled eight-day journey. It is the only the third time that a relay to Athens for the summer Games has not been completed.

The Olympic flame will still be handed over to the Tokyo 2020 organising committee at the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens on Thursday March 19, but without fans present. 

Athletes were told to keep training but many struggled considering the government lock-down measures put in place. 

On Friday March 13 US president Donald Trump’s suggestion to postpone the Tokyo Olympics for a year because of the coronavirus was immediately shot down by Japan’s Olympic minister.

‘The IOC and the organising committee are not considering cancellation or a postponement – absolutely not at all,’ Seiko Hashimoto, an Olympic bronze medalist, told a news conference in Tokyo.

On Tuesday March 17, Kozo Tashima, one of the Japanese Olympic Committee’s vice presidents and president of the Japanese Football Association, tested positive for coronavirus.  

The International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organisers have stayed on message since the viral outbreak in China three months ago spread across Asia and then the globe: The games will open as scheduled on July 24. 

Tokyo 2020 organisers received the Olympic flame in a scaled-down handover ceremony in the Greek capital on March 19. 

ATHLETICS 

The World Athletics Indoor Championships, which was due to be held from March 13-15 in Nanjing, is postponed until March 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, where the Seoul Marathon is cancelled in a bid to protect runners.

The Paris half-marathon is cancelled and the French government also decided to ban all public gatherings of more than 100 people, before ordering people to stay at home from March 15 for at least 15 days. The race involving some 44,000 competitors was scheduled for Sunday March 1. Organisers said the race will be postponed to a date yet to be determined.

The London Marathon, which had been scheduled to take place on April 26, has been postponed until October 4. Over 40,000 runners were due to take part. 

The Barcelona marathon scheduled for March 15 has been postponed until October.

BOXING 

Olympic boxing qualifiers to be staged in Wuhan were cancelled by the International Olympic Committee, but went ahead 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.

Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce’s Battle of Britain has been pushed back from April to July

The British Boxing Board of Control announced on Tuesday March 17 that all boxing events under their jurisdiction for March will be postponed due to the coronavirus.

That decision has lead to the heavyweight clash between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce being postponed. That fight, which had been penciled in for April 11, has been rescheduled for July 11 at the O2 Arena. 

Matchroom Boxing has also postponed all events scheduled for March and April, including Josh Kelly’s European title fight against Russia’s David Avanesyan (scheduled for March 28). 

The European Olympic boxing qualification tournament in London has been suspended. It was due to secure qualification for Tokyo 2020 for 77 male and female boxers, with 322 taking part. 

Matchroom Boxing chief Eddie Hearn has said Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title defence against Kubrat Pulev, which is scheduled for June 20, could be rearranged for July. All Matchroom promoted fights in March and April have been postponed. 

Canelo Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders, earmarked for May in Las Vegas, was postponed before even being announced, however the Mexican is reportedly still planning to make the bout happen in June. 

CRICKET 

England’s tour of Sri Lanka was postponed on March 13, with the England and Wales Cricket Board citing ‘completely unprecedented times’.

The decision was confirmed while Joe Root’s side were in the field at Colombo’s P Sara Oval, contesting a warm-up game for a two-Test series.

On March 18, the West Indies offered to host England’s upcoming home Tests against them in the Caribbean instead of in the UK – should the coronavirus outbreak not have improved by then. England are due to face the Windies in a a three-Test series, which is due to start at the Oval on June 4 but could be delayed until September. If playing the series in England proves unworkable, CWI have offered to step in for this series, and also for England’s three Tests against Pakistan, due to start on July 30. Although there are Covid-19 cases in the Caribbean, its impact there has been limited so far. 

The start of the Indian Premier League season has also been delayed until April 15. The 2020 campaign had been set to start on March 29. The IPL franchises are also ready to quarantine their foreign players for a period of 14 days, if travel restrictions are lifted to allow them to arrive.

On March 13, India’s ongoing one-day international series against South Africa was postponed, while Australia’s one-day internationals against New Zealand will be played behind closed doors.

Scotland’s one-day series against the United States and UAE have been postponed. The games were scheduled to be played in Florida in April. 

England’s cricketers would not play any rescheduled Test series against West Indies in the Caribbean until December at the earliest, it emerged on March 19.

CYCLING 

Cycling’s Giro d’Italia has been called off, with the race scheduled to start in Hungary in May. 

The final two stages of the UAE Tour were cancelled after two members of staff on the race were suspected of having the disease. 

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov was tested for coronavirus after being put in isolation

The Tour de France is under threat of cancellation, with the scheduled start in Nice taking place in just over three months, on June 27. With British and French governments anticipating that the pandemic will last until the summer, race organizers are studying alternative scheduling. 

The Paris-Roubaix cycling race, another major event on the French sports calendar, was postponed due to the pandemic, while the April 5 Tour of Flanders, only previously cancelled during World War I, was also postponed in a further sign that Le Tour is under grave threat.

FOOTBALL 

This summer’s Euro 2020 tournament has been moved to next summer (2021) following a UEFA conference held on March 17. The postponement provides a chance for European club competitions to be completed.

All football in England is suspended until at least April 30 – but the 2019-20 season should eventually be completed after the FA bend their own rules to extend the campaign INDEFINITELY after holding crisis talks on March 19.

The decisions to suspend follows players and staff becoming affected by the virus, or individuals self-isolating as a precaution after reporting symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

The Premier League has moved to cancel games following the global outbreak of coronavius

The Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal, scheduled for March 11, had already been postponed as a ‘precautionary measure’ after Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis tested positive for coronavirus weeks after watching his Greek team play at the Emirates Stadium. 

On March 13, UEFA announced all Champions League and Europa League fixtures scheduled are postponed, as well as the quarter-final draws for both competitions. UEFA hope to conclude the competitions in the summer but no dates are yet set. 

Birmingham City become the first Championship side to see players take temporary 50 per cent wage cuts to ease financial pressure.  Leeds United soon followed in a bid to keep paying all of their non-football staff. 

All Chinese domestic fixtures at all levels were postponed and the season pushed back, the first football to be affected by the outbreak in the country of its origin. However, reports suggest that the league could resume on April 18 as China gets to grip with the virus.

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 are playing their matches behind closed doors.

Japan’s J-League postponed all domestic games until the middle of March, but further delays are inevitable. 

Ludogorets players were taking no chances after the coronavirus outbreak in Italy

Italy, the country worst hit by the virus outside China, suffered a spate of cancellations before the government put the population on lockdown. All sport, including Serie A games, were suspended until at least April 3 to contain the virus.

In France, it was announced on Friday 13 March that there will be no top-flight football in France for the immediate future after their governing body postponed all matches.  

In Spain, April 18’s Copa del Rey final between between Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad has been postponed. LaLiga is also postponed until the end of March at least.

Germany’s Bundesliga, the other major European league, is also suspended until April 3 at least. 

The Dutch Eredivisie and Portugal’s Primeira Liga are also suspended.

The Football Association of Ireland announced that all football under its jurisdiction will cease until March 29. 

Major League Soccer has been suspended for 30 days until mid-April with David Beckham’s first Inter Miami home game delayed.  

The South American Football Confederation postponed this year’s Copa America, due to take place from 12 June to 12 July, until 2021.

FIFA said that the newly-expanded Club World Cup, originally scheduled to take place in China in June 2021, will be postponed and a new date announced when ‘there is more clarity on the situation’.

On March 13, the FA announced that all of England’s games scheduled for the month would be postponed, including those of development teams. It means that England’s friendlies with Italy and Denmark have been called off.    

Euro 2020 play-off matches due to be held on March 26, including Scotland v Israel have been put off until June. 

Olympiakos’ owner Evangelos Marinakis has tested positive for the coronavirus

Manchester United clash at Austrian side Lask was behind closed doors, with United handing out £350 to each fan to help with travel and accommodation after they sold 900 tickets for the Europa League game. 

Newcastle United banned their players from shaking hands with each other amid coronavirus fears. 

Cristiano Ronaldo went into isolation in Madeira after it emerged that his Juventus team-mate, Daniele Rugani, has coronavirus. Squad members Blaise Matuidi and Paolo Dybala also tested positive. 

Elsewhere in Italy, Fiorentina striker Patrick Cutrone, who is on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, tested positive for coronavirus.

In Spain, 35% of Valencia’s squad staff tested positive for coronavirus, with all cases being asymptomatic. 

Real Madrid’s first-team squad were in quarantine after a member of the basketball team tested positive for Covid-19. The two teams share the same training facility.   

Liverpool have announced a charity match between a Reds Legends side and Barcelona Legends, due to be played at Anfield on March 28, has been postponed.

FIFA says it will postpone South American World Cup qualifying matches due to take place in March. 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for coronavirus on March 12 with the entire first-team squad being put into isolation. The Gunners’ game against Brighton, scheduled for Saturday March 14, has been postponed.

In the early hours of Friday, March 13, Chelsea announced that winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had been diagnosed with the illness.

The club’s first team went into self-isolation, while two buildings at their training ground in Cobham were closed. 

Premier League clubs, including Manchester United and Manchester City, have sent players home to train alone following the British government’s increasing crackdown on mass gatherings and unnecessary social contact.   

West Ham chief Karren Brady called for the season to be null and void while Aston Villa believe no team should be relegated. In this situation Liverpool, the runaway league leaders, could face the horror of being denied the title despite being on the brink of securing their first league trophy in nearly 30 years.

Reports suggest football bodies across England and the rest of Europe are bracing themselves for a reported total shutdown of every league until September.

Top-level English and Scottish football was initially suspended until April 3 at the earliest. The Football Association, the Premier League, the English Football League, FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship all agreed to call a halt to competitive action with immediate effect. 

All levels of English football below the National League North and South have been called off and voided with no promotion and relegation due to the calendar being decimated by the coronavirus outbreak.  

FORMULA ONE 

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix was called off after a McLaren team member came down with Covid-19, leading to the British team pulling out prior to a decision being made on whether the race would still go ahead. 

The announcement came hours after Lewis Hamilton said it was ‘shocking’ that the race was going ahead. 

The Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 was the first race to be postponed, with no decision over whether it will be reinserted into the 2020 calendar for later in the season. 

The Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled for March 20-22, is also called off, as is the inaugural Vietnam Grand Prix, which was scheduled to take place in Hanoi on April 5. 

It was hoped that the Dutch Grand Prix on May 3 would be the first race of the new season but that has also been postponed due to Covid-19. 

The iconic Monaco Grand Prix on May 24 was cancelled for the first time in 66 years before Formula One announced their race in Azerbaijan had been postponed. 

The Chinese GP was first to be cancelled and other races could yet follow that lead

GOLF 

On March 13, the Masters was postponed. In a statement released online, Fred Ridley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, emphasised that the decision makers hope to hold the championship ‘at some later date’. The first men’s major of the year was due to begin on April 9.

The US PGA Championship, the second major of the year, has now joined the  Masters in being postponed. It had been due to take place at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco from May 11-17, but has been rescheduled for later this summer.

After deciding to play with no spectators from the second round of the Players Championship onwards, the PGA Tour cancelled the event entirely after the first round on March 12. 

They also scrapped the following three events leading up to the Masters, but after that was cancelled four further events in April and May – the RBC Heritage, the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, the Wells Fargo Championship and the AT&T Byron Nelson – also bit the dust. It is hoped that the season can be resumed in late May.

The European Tour have cancelled all tournaments until the popular Made in Denmark event on May 21. Many of them were due to be held in China or east Asia in countries badly hit by the outbreak.

The women’s game has also been hit by postponements and cancellations, with the year’s first major, the ANA Inspiration, the highest profile casualty.

The Masters has been postponed for the first time since the Second World War

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. 

HORSE RACING 

The Grand National was called off following new British government restrictions to fight the spread of coronavirus made it impossible to stage the Aintree showpiece on April 4. The Cheltenham Festival went ahead amid some criticism before the social distancing measures were tightened. 

The Japan Racing Association revealed that ‘government-sanctioned races’ will go ahead behind closed doors.  

Racing in Ireland attempted to take place behind closed doors starting on March 29 – but that decision was changed after government cancelled all sporting events.  

The Dubai World Cup meeting will go ahead on March 28 ‘without paid hospitality spectators’. 

Racing Post forced to temporarily suspend publication of the flagship daily racing newspaper for the first time since their inception in 1986 due to all action in UK and Ireland being suspended.  

The Cheltenham Festival went ahead despite travel disruption caused by the virus

RUGBY 

This year’s Six Nations will have to wait for its conclusion with all remaining games postponed.

England’s game with Italy and Ireland’s trip to France had already been called off with Wales and Scotland leaving it until the day before before calling off their game. 

Saturday, 31 October is a possible date for the final weekend of matches. 

The Women’s Six Nations has also been hit by postponements.

Ireland’s Six Nations encounter with Italy on March 7 has been postponed

The RFU has suspended all levels of rugby in England until April 14, with the announcement coming shortly after the Premiership was halted for five weeks. 

The quarter-finals of the European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup have also been postponed. Those games were scheduled for April 3, 4 and 5.   

The RFL and rugby league’s Super League have now followed suit and postponed all fixtures for at least three weeks. Eight Leeds Rhinos players had been confirmed to be self-isolating.  

TENNIS

The French Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, is postponed until September amid a wide lockdown in France.

The clay-court major was scheduled for May 24 to June 7, but that has shifted to September 20 to October 4, after the US Open, which was due to be the final major of the year. 

Players have been quick to criticise the move, which has created a conflict with the Laver Cup men’s team event spearheaded by Roger Federer, and a women’s tournament in China.

All events on the ATP Tour have been suspended for six weeks. 

The BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells in California, set to start on March 9, was postponed at the eleventh hour.  It came after a confirmed case of the coronavirus in the nearby Coachella Valley.

The final of an ATP Challenger event in Bergamo, Italy, between Enzo Couacaud and Illya Marchenko of Ukraine was 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 play-off.

WTA events have also been cancelled. The WTA announced they are assessing their schedule with a number of events set for China in the second half of the season.

The International Tennis Federation has announced that the Fed Cup finals have been postponed. The event was due to be held in Budapest in April and the competition’s play-offs, which were set to take place in eight different locations, have also been placed on hold.

The WTA also announced no tournaments will be staged for at least five weeks.   

OTHER SPORTS 

The NBA has been suspended indefinitely after two Utah Jazz players contracted the virus. On March 17 Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant confirmed he had tested positive for the virus alongside three unnamed team-mates.

In an aid to decrease risks of exposure to the virus, the NBA had told players to avoid taking items such as pens, markers, balls and jerseys from autograph seekers. 

The NHL has announced it has paused the 2019-20 season with no date confirmed for when it will resume. 

The UFC has cancelled its next three events, although president Dana White is still pushing ahead for the highly-anticipated lightweight title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson. 

MotoGP have cancelled their first two races of the season in Qatar and Thailand. 

South Korea’s 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.

The World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi was postponed as a precautionary measure.  

The Women’s World Ice Hockey Championships in Canada have been cancelled.   

All 72 pre-season baseball games in Japan are to take place behind closed doors

In badminton, the 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’. 

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.  

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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