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How the Coronavirus Is Disrupting Sports Events


The coronavirus toll has risen to 100,000 infections and 4,000 deaths. With governments imposing lockdowns and travel and border restrictions, sports events worldwide continued to be postponed, canceled or played without spectators.

The disruption to the world or sports, confined first to Asia and then the Europe, has now moved to the United States, most notably with the suspension of the N.B.A. season after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The N.C.A.A. said that its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments would be played without fans. The move allows the games to go on, largely satisfying fans who plan to watch on television but threatening the lively atmosphere at the games.

Here’s the latest as of Thursday:

“The N.B.A. will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,” the league said in its statement. The Jazz were seconds away from tipping off against the Thunder in Oklahoma City when the game was delayed, then called off after 30 minutes.

The N.C.A.A. will allow only essential staff and limited family attendance at its games, normally the highlight of the college basketball season.

The SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 are among the conferences that will proceed with their conference tournaments, but bar spectators. The Ivy League canceled its men’s and women’s tournaments outright.

The 16-team team College Basketball Invitational, another postseason tournament, will not be played this year because of the outbreak.

The top European basketball competition, Euroleague, suspended all games in Italy until April 11 after several teams expressed a reluctance to play there.

Games across Europe and other parts of the world are being played without spectators or postponed to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The Manchester City-Arsenal match on Wednesday became the first Premier League game postponed. Arsenal had played Olympiakos two weeks ago and some players and staff members had contact with Evangelos Marinakis, the Greek owner of Olympiakos, who has tested positive for the virus.

Spain suspended its top two divisions for at least two weeks. The star-studded Real Madrid team is in quarantine after a player for the club’s basketball team tested positive.

France will bar spectators at all games in the top two divisions until April 15. The League Cup final between P.S.G. and Lyon, originally scheduled for April 4, has been postponed indefinitely.

Portugal will play league games without fans for at least two weeks and Belgium for a week. All weekend games in the Bundesliga in Germany will be played without fans, a first for the league.

In Japan, J League games have been postponed. In China, the Super League schedule has not yet begun, with no date for a return set, as much of the country is under virtual lockdown.

All World Cup qualifying games in Asia were postponed until the fall. The Slovakia-Ireland playoff for Euro 2020 will be played without fans.

The flame lighting ceremony in Greece on Thursday was held without spectators. Olympic officials continue to maintain that the Summer Games will proceed as scheduled in Tokyo in July and August.

Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, dismissed comments by an executive board member who said the Games should be delayed a year. “He certainly said an outlandish thing,” Mori said.

The France-Ireland game set for this weekend in Paris has been postponed, the third Six Nations match to be put on hold. For now, the last remaining match for the weekend, Wales-Scotland, will be played as scheduled.

The Seattle Mariners said they were working on alternative plans for their six home games scheduled for March, in accordance with a ban on large group events in the area, which was announced Wednesday. The ban will last at least until the end of March.

Japan has postponed the start of its baseball season, scheduled for March 20, until April.

The New York City Half Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, has been canceled. The Paris Marathon has been delayed from April to October. The Barcelona Marathon has also been postponed until October. The Rome Marathon on March 29 has been canceled.

The World Figure Skating Championships in Montreal, scheduled to run March 18 to 22, have been canceled. The event was expected to feature about 200 skaters from more than 50 countries.

The women’s world ice hockey championship, to be played in Canada beginning March 31, has been canceled. The Alpine World Cup finals, scheduled to begin March 18 in Italy, have been canceled. The last three races of the women’s skiing World Cup, to be held in Sweden, were canceled.

A cross country World Cup race this weekend in Minneapolis was canceled.

The McLaren team pulled out of the Formula One season opener in Australia later this month after a team member tested positive. The race in China, scheduled for April, was previously postponed.

Marc Stein contributed reporting.

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