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Mercedes blast back as Toto Wolff tipped to quit F1 team and leave Lewis Hamilton in limbo

Mercedes have slammed speculation Toto Wolff might leave his role as head of their F1 operation to take up a position at Aston Martin. Rumours regarding Wolff’s future have rumbled on for months due to his growing friendship with Racing Point owner Lawrence Stroll.

The Canadian billionaire has just injected millions of pounds into Aston Martin, which will see Racing Point rebranded with their name for the 2021 F1 season.

Wolff has, in the wake of that investment, been tipped by none other than former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone to quit Mercedes and join the board of Aston Martin.

If the Austrian headed to the British car manufacturer, it would leave Lewis Hamilton in limbo, with the driver admitting his future is linked to that of his boss.

Wolff denied last weekend that he is on course to become the chief executive of Aston Martin, blasting a story regarding the potential move as “not true”.

Mercedes have now issued their own verdict on the speculation that Wolff is set to call time on his spell as team principal.

Speaking on the Sky Sports F1 vodcast, presenter Natalie Pinkham revealed Mercedes’ theory on what’s going on.

“Just a line from Mercedes, on Toto, they truly believe that it’s all political attempts to destabilise and make mischief, this talk of him going to Aston Martin,” Pinkham said.

“‘None of it is to be taken seriously. Simply some journos are happy to be the instruments of others putting out misinformation or misinformed speculation.

“‘Toto has said very clearly he’s not going to Aston Martin. Likewise, he has a strong and very close relationship to the Daimler CEO [Ola Kallenius]’. So, absolutely slamming down those rumours that we’ve been hearing.”

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Wolff has overseen Mercedes’ dominance of F1 over the past six years, with the Silver Arrows winning drivers’ and constructors’ title doubles each season.

Hamilton has won five of the past six World Drivers’ Championships, with his former team-mate Nico Rosberg scooping the one the missed out on in 2016.

Hamilton’s £40m-a-year Mercedes contract is due to expire at the end of the 2020 F1 campaign, the start of which has been pushed back until the summer due to the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

Ferrari are known admirers of the six-time champion and last year it was confirmed preliminary, informal talks over a possible switch had been held.

Hamilton is, though, expected to put pen to paper on a bumper new Mercedes deal in the coming months.

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Silverstone will find out by end of April if it can hold British GP

Silverstone and F1 will find out by the end of April if it can hold British Grand Prix amid coronavirus outbreak

  • British Grand Prix is among the next batch of races threatened by coronavirus
  • Silverstone is due to hold the ever-present prestigious event on July 19 
  • Canada, France and Austria are also under threat due to the pandemic
  • Seven of the first eight 2020 F1 races postponed, with Monaco cancelled
  • British GP most attended event in 2019 with over 350,000 visiting Silverstone
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Formula One and Silverstone admit they have until the end of April before they find out if the British Grand Prix could be held this year.

The 2020 season has already been forced to postpone seven of the first eight races this term, with the eighth in Monaco having been cancelled.

Silverstone is due to host the event on July 19 but is among the next group of races that could face postponement as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The British Grand Prix and F1 have announced they have until the end of April before deciding on whether this year’s race can be held amid the coronavirus outbreak

A statement from the British Grand Prix and F1 read: ‘We fully appreciate that other UK sporting events in July have taken decisions regarding their events, but it is important to highlight that their logistics and sporting arrangements differ from Silverstone’s.

‘Therefore, our timeline gives us until the end of April to make a final decision. The safety of our fans, colleagues and the F1 community will be our priority and we will continue to engage with the appropriate authorities.’

Silverstone is due to host the race on July 19 but it could be at least postponed in a similar fashion to the first eight races of the year as the virus wreaks havoc on the sport

F1 2020 SEASON SCHEDULE

Mar 15 – Australia (Melbourne)

Mar 22 – Bahrain (Sakhir)

April 5 – Vietnam (Hanoi)

April 19 – China (Shanghai)

May 3 – Holland (Zandvoort)

May 10 – Spain (Barcelona)

May 24 – Monaco (Monte Carlo)*  

Jun 7 – Azerbaijan (Baku)

Jun 14 – Canada (Montreal)

Jun 28 – France (Paul Ricard)

July 5 – Austria (Spielberg) 

Jul 19 – Great Britain (Silverstone)

Aug 2 – Hungary (Budapest)

Aug 30 – Belgium (Spa)

Sep 6 – Italy (Monza)

Sep 20 – Singapore (Marina Bay)

Sep 27 – Russia (Sochi)

Oct 11 – Japan (Suzuka)

Oct 25 – USA (Austin)

Nov 1 – Mexico (Mexico City)

Nov 15 – Brazil (Interlagos)

Nov 29 – Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina)

*Monaco has been cancelled 

Bold denotes postponed race

Silverstone was the most attended race last term, with over 350,000 people having visited the circuit during the race weekend which saw home favourite Lewis Hamilton triumph in front of Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas. 

The British sporting summer is already looking bleak, with Euro 2020 having been delayed a year and the Wimbledon tennis championships, also held in July, looking likely to be axed for the first time since World War II.

Along with Italy, Britain is the only country to have held a Formula One grand prix every season since the championship’s inception in 1950, with Silverstone hosting the inaugural event.

Over 350,000 attended the race weekend last season – the most of any event on the calendar

Lewis Hamilton celebrates winning the 2019 race to the delight of home fans in attendance

But the Coronavirus outbreak puts that run into serious threat, with the start of the season only pencilled in to begin in Canada on June 14.

However the race in Montreal is unlikely to go ahead, with the following races in France, Austria and Britain the next in line to get postponed if the coronavirus pandemic fails to ease in time for the events.

A postponement for Silverstone could still see it creep back onto the calendar later into the year, with a long gap in August between races held in Hungary and Belgium offering vacant slots to be filled. 

In the event of a postponement, F1 chiefs will still hope to reschedule the event later in the year

The enforced shutdown for the teams that usually happens in this period has already been altered for a three-week spell between now and the end of April.

F1 chiefs hope to salvage what they can from what was meant to be a record 22-race season by hosting 18 events into January, two months after the scheduled end of year finale in Abu Dhabi. 

Rules state at least eight races have to held for a world championship to be valid. 

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. 

Anthony Yarde, who was due to fight Lyndon Arthur on the undercard of the all-British clash, announced on March 29 that his father had died as a result of contracting the coronavirus. 

He revealed in an Instagram post that he had no underlying health issues and urged everyone to stay at home.  

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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British GP: Silverstone to wait until end of April on July race call

Silverstone will wait until the end of April before deciding whether the British Grand Prix can take place on July 19.

The first eight rounds of F1 2020 up to mid-June have been either postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The British GP was scheduled to be round 12 on the weekend of July 17-19 and organisers say they and F1 officials will continue to monitor the situation over the next month.

“Silverstone and Formula 1 remain in close dialogue regarding the ongoing situation and are assessing the feasibility of holding the British Grand Prix on 17th – 19th July,” read a statement.

“We fully appreciate that other UK sporting events in July have taken decisions regarding their events, but it is important to highlight that their logistics and sporting arrangements differ from Silverstone’s and, therefore, our timeline gives us until the end of April to make a final decision.

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Max Verstappen verdict dropped by esports chief after F1 Virtual Grand Prix series snub

Max Verstappen’s decision to turn down the chance to take part in the F1 Virtual Grand Prix series might be reversed if he starts to see his pit-lane rivals perform well in it. That’s the hope of Codemasters chief Paul Jeal, whose company are behind the F1 2019 game used in the official series.

Red Bull ace Verstappen is a big believer in the positive impact simulator racing can have on the careers of real-world drivers.

But last month he decided to snub the virtual series F1 set up to make up for the first eight Grands Prix of the season being axed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Verstappen put his decision down to being unfamiliar with the F1 2019 game being used in the series and has since been competing with Team Redline on other platforms.

Jeal, who is F1 franchise director at Codemasters, believes though that the Dutchman may be won round if he sees his real-world rivals shining in the official virtual series.

EXPERT VIEW: Why Max Verstappen has turned to esports

And he’s left the door open for Verstappen to get involved with the series if he changes his mind.

“When you race in or play any video game, each one’s got its own unique way of playing, I suppose, and you can only devote a certain amount of practice to any game,” Jeal told RaceFans.net.

“So I know he’s very, very serious with a lot of his iRacing and rFactor stuff that he does with Team Redline. So he’s probably in virtual championships and wanted to dominate that.

“I think probably a small part as well, he probably thought that the esports guys were going to be involved. I think the quote I read was that he didn’t want to be rattling around at the back.

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“We were hoping, once we go through these first few races and you’re seeing, actually, it’s the F1 drivers at the front, all of the ‘real motorsport’ guys at the front.

“So I hope over time that people will see that and start to gravitate more towards it because, what we’re not trying to do is we don’t want them to get destroyed by egamers. That’s certainly not what we wanted in our series.

“I think if you’re a fan tuning in and Max Verstappen is in 16th place, that’s not really what you’re tuning in for. So I hope over time, actually, he’ll be more inclined to take part.”

The latest round of the official esports series – the F1 Vietnam Virtual Grand Prix – will take place on Sunday at 8pm.

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Racing

F1 bans teams from developing their 2022 cars this year

F1 bans teams from developing their 2022 cars this year in bid to save costs amid the coronavirus pandemic

  • Teams unanimously agreed to new ruling which prevents aerodynamic work
  • F1’s new rules and regulations will kickstart a new era for the sport in 2022
  • Cars designs will change dramatically but rules already been delayed a year
  • New era was set to start in 2021 but coronavirus chaos has led to cost cutting
  • In addition current shutdown period for teams looks set to be extended 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Formula One have banned teams from developing their cars in line for the 2022 season for the rest of the year when a revamp of rules and regulations are set to kickstart a new era for the sport.

The move comes in the latest response to the coronavirus outbreak, which has seen the new rules and regulations already delayed for a year having initially been planned to be introduced for the 2021 season.

But the world motor sport council (WMSC) has taken a further step by preventing any ‘aerodynamic’ work done this year in view of developing the 2022 cars, a move unanimously agreed by the teams on the grid. 

New rules and regulations will see dramatic changes to Formula One car designs for 2022

F1’s revamp was due for 2021 but was delayed a year following the coronavirus outbreak

With teams set to feel huge financial strain, with eight races having already been postponed, it will come as a welcome relief to a season which has yet to host its first race due to the pandemic.

The changes though are significant as it means teams will now only be allowed to design the aerodynamic features on their brand new 2022 cars under a budget cap of £140million ($175million).

The cap only comes into force from next year and it is hoped the new ruling will could now lead to a much more even playing field once the new rules and regulations comes into play. 

In further moves rubber stamped by the WMSC, the FIA and F1 now have the power to change the race calendar without a vote involving the teams.

After the aborted attempt to run the opening race of the season in Australia, teams are now in a period of shutdown which prevents them from working on their cars

FIA president Jean Todt has been given new powers ‘to take any decisions in connection with the organisation of international competitions for the 2020 season, which may be required as a matter of urgency’.

F1 teams are in, or about to go into, a period where factories shut down for three weeks without any work being done to the car. But this has now been extended to engine development as well.

The three-weeks have been brought forward from the summer between the Hungarian and Belgian grands prix in August – a period where F1 will hope to squeeze in some of the races currently postponed due to the coronavirus crisis.

The current shutdown period though looks likely to be extended on the basis of ‘the event that public health concerns or government restrictions continue beyond the shutdown period initially envisaged’. 

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. 

Anthony Yarde, who was due to fight Lyndon Arthur on the undercard of the all-British clash, announced on March 29 that his father had died as a result of contracting the coronavirus. 

He revealed in an Instagram post that he had no underlying health issues and urged everyone to stay at home.  

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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F1 hailed over Project Pitlane as Mercedes, Red Bull and rivals help NHS fight coronavirus

F1 pundits Martin Brundle, Karun Chandhok and Jenson Button have hailed the efforts of the seven UK-based teams working to provide solutions to the coronavirus crisis. Mercedes, Red Bull, McLaren, Renault, Williams, Racing Point and Haas have come together as part of Project Pitlane to develop and manufacturer medical equipment for the NHS.

Mercedes announced on Thursday that a breakthrough with University College London (UCL) and clinicians at UCL Hospital had seen them produced the Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device.

The reigning champions’ rivals are plugging away with their efforts, with F1 engineering expert Pat Symonds co-ordinating the project.

The F1 teams’ have now been praised, with former Benetton, Williams and McLaren driver Brundle believing the work is further proof of the sport’s innovative power.

“I’m really proud of F1, with what they’re doing,” Brundle told Sky Sports F1. “Having watched the whole saga in China and South Korea, I’m surprised we haven’t been asked to engage a few weeks before this.

“But it’s the whole essence of motorsport and Formula 1 in particular. The have a problem, a technical problem on a Sunday in a race [situation], have a solution by lunchtime on Monday.

EXPERT OPINION: Coronavirus pandemic to impact Lewis Hamilton contract decision

“You don’t convene meetings for later in the week. Get on to it and then have it in production by Wednesday because we have an absolute deadline at all times. And that’s the next time the start lights go out.

“So the can do, must do, will do sort of attitude. And I think applying that, as indeed companies like Williams and McLaren have done for years now anyway – applied technologies for transport and healthcare and all sorts of things that contribute to society.

“So it’s a perfect spot for Formula 1 to drop into and make things happen at the rate we are so used to them happening.”

Chandhok, who raced with HRT and Lotus in F1, says the teams’ efforts are being recognised as far afield as India.

“As Martin said, this is the amazing thing about Formula 1,” Chandhok said. “Delivering design and manufacturing within such a finite amount of time, sometimes between races.

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“You spot something on a competitor’s car and you’ve got to design it, manufacture it, validate it and then put it on to your car in three races’ time. We’ve seen that happen time and again on the track, so it’s great to see some of the most brilliant minds on the planet, [who] I believe work in our sport and we’re very lucky.

“It’s really important right now, because of the sheer scale, we need something like 30,000 ventilators in this country alone, it’s not the rest of the world that we’re looking at. So any solution they can come up with – Mercedes have gone down one path, Red Bull are looking for the next one along.

“I had a phone call this morning with a company in India who literally called me up to say: ‘Look, can you get in touch with F1? I’m willing to underwrite mass producing this in India. We’ve got 1.2billion people here. This is going to be a massive problem’.

“This is where F1 can help because we are a global sport. Yes, there are seven teams based in the UK and it’s a very UK-centric hub in terms of the engineering. But Formula 1’s a worldwide sport and I think we can help the world at large.”

2009 F1 champion Button, who now lives in California, has hailed the work and picked out Mercedes’ plans to produce 1000 devices a day as “unreal”.

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“It’s fantastic to see,” said Button. “There are some real brains in our sport. We also have the technology. We have the machines to build. And it’s really good to see them being used to help the millions out there.

“We’ve been entertaining millions for years and now we’re actually doing some proper good, which is really good. And I think it’s nice to see the whole community come together.

“And, churning out a thousand a day, that is unreal. There are not many companies around the world who can do that.

“Looking at what is needed in the States, in New York they’re hoping to have 140,000 ventilators. They’re nowhere that now, I think they’re at about 40,000. But our sport can do some real good here and I’m very proud of what Formula 1 is doing and what they can achieve.”

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Red Bull boss tells drivers to try and get coronavirus as it’s ‘ideal time’ with season on hold

Red Bull motorsport chief Helmut Marko has revealed he suggested the team’s drivers should try to become infected with coronavirus as it is the “ideal time” with the season on hold.

The start of the 2020 Formula One season has been decimated by the global pandemic, with the opening six races of the year either cancelled or postponed.

As things stand, the first Grand Prix of a truncated season will be in Canada on 14 June, but that will almost certainly change in the coming days.

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In the meantime, Marko told Austrian television station ORF that he came up with a plan to see the likes of Red Bull driver pairing Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – as well as AlphaTauri duo Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat – contract Covid-19 in an attempt to have them fit and healthy when the season finally begins.

“We have four Formula One drivers and eight or 10 juniors,” he said.

“The idea was to organise a camp where we could bridge this mentally and physically somewhat dead time and that would be the ideal time for the infection to come.

“These are all strong young men in really good health. That way they would be prepared whenever the action starts.

“And you can be ready for what will probably be a very tough championship once it starts.”

Asked how his vision was taken by Red Bull chiefs, he added: “Let’s put it this way, it has not been well received.”

Marko, 76, believes he may have already had coronavirus – although he has not been tested – and praised the effort of Red Bull and other F1 teams in helping to build much-needed ventilators to support the NHS.

“I had what I thought was a severe cold and the symptoms would match corona,” he added. “It was also something that I had never had in this intensity. I don’t know if it was because the test options are currently very limited, but as soon as there is a chance, I would like to be tested afterwards.

“We are producing ventilators. This is the big plus of Formula One, that you can react to the greatest technological challenges in the shortest possible time and also have the necessary speed in production.”

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Sebastian Vettel gets retirement advice as Bernie Ecclestone urges F1 star to quit Ferrari

Sebastian Vettel has been urged by Bernie Ecclestone to call time on his Ferrari career when his contract expires at the end of the year. The former F1 supremo says his friend should either move to a rival or retire if he calls it a day with the Italians.

Vettel joined Ferrari ahead of the 2015 season and had high hopes of recapturing the form which saw him win four World Drivers’ Championship titles at Red Bull.

The 32-year-old has failed to live up to expectations, though, and last season slipped down the pecking order below team-mate Charles Leclerc, who was in his first year with Ferrari.

The Prancing Horse have since rewarded Leclerc with a contract tying him down until 2024, while Vettel has been made to wait on fresh terms.

Ecclestone, who enjoys games of backgammon when he meets with Vettel, has now advised the German to quit Ferrari at the end of the delayed 2020 season.

And he says a switch to a competitor, or leaving F1 altogether, would be in his best interests.

“I think that Sebastian’s performance has recently suffered under the Ferrari constellation with new team-mate Charles Leclerc, who is also managed by the FIA President’s son [Nicolas Todt],” Ecclestone told F1-Insider.com.

“I suspect he doesn’t see [Mattia] Binotto as the supporter he needs in his situation.

“Sebastian should therefore stop or look for alternatives for 2021. McLaren, then again with Mercedes engines, could be one.”

Ecclestone, who ran F1 for almost 40 years before being ousted in Liberty Media’s takeover, oversaw an era in the 2000s where Ferrari dominated.

The 89-year-old does not rate the leadership skills of current Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto.

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“Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto is a very good technician,” Ecclestone said. “You can see that from the fact that his engine was brilliant – for whatever reason.

“But is that why he is a good boss who should lead a team? I don’t think so.

“He always laughs nicely, regardless of whether the sun is shining or it is raining. Regardless of whether Ferrari wins or loses. That doesn’t exude sovereignty.”

Vettel must now wait until at least June to begin the 2020 season, with the first eight races of the year all called off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Canadian Grand Prix, where a Vettel error handed Lewis Hamilton a win last year, is now pencilled in to be the start of the campaign on June 14.

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Ecclestone admits F1 faces threat to its existence due to coronavirus

It’s a car crash! Bernie Ecclestone admits F1 is facing a threat to its existence as coronavirus shutdown leaves teams on the brink

  • Ex-Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone is concerned for the sport’s future  
  • Coronavirus has already caused eight races to be cancelled or postponed  
  • F1 is determined to have a season, with solutions now hastily being developed 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Bernie Ecclestone is locked down at his coffee farm in Brazil. At 490 acres it is literally the size of Monaco, and, with coronavirus lurking, staff who live on site go out a couple at a time to do the shopping.

The gates are closed but the phone is ringing for the man who created modern Formula One. I ask him if the pandemic menace is the biggest threat to the sport that he has ever known.

After a pause: ‘Yes.’

Bernie Ecclestone is concerned about the threat the coronavirus poses to Formula One

The pandemic has caused problems across sport, with the Monaco GP having to be cancelled

Aged 89 and hardened by a life of deal-making that took him from his Bexleyheath car showroom into the confidence of presidents and princes, he is not given to panic or fretting. He is, however, concerned by the hiatus in Grand Prix activity that imperils what was a near $2billion-a-year business.

The backdrop is that racing is suspended until the summer at least; the British Grand Prix in July is likely to be postponed, perhaps this week; the teams are taking FIA-mandated factory closures moved from August to now and, it can be revealed, those are likely to be extended.

And, although no team principal wants to speak on the record, Sportsmail understands from high-placed sources that several teams, possibly all of them, are in discussions with their HR departments and lawyers about putting hundreds of staff on furlough to see them through the lull. Others will be redirected to making ventilators for the health emergency.

Ecclestone sees many problems with how Formula One can get the season started again 

In a frank interview, Ecclestone sees reason for hope but only if the sport follows a tough prescription to live within its means and places pragmatism ahead of rampant egotism.

‘Let’s look at a good side and it takes six months to tidy up this pandemic and there is no longer a problem, it is still not easy for Formula One to put on races,’ he says. ‘It’s not like sowing a seed. There are an awful lot of things you have to do.

‘You have to get the promoters to take a risk on staging events not knowing if they are going to get the public in or not. You can’t stage a race if it’s -10C. And people usually plan what they are going to do; they don’t just wake one day and say let’s go to Silverstone or wherever else.

‘And even if all that is sorted, you then need participants. And the next question is: are they alive and well to perform? And that is another thing again. Even a smaller team like Williams, they have staff to pay and bills to pay, and it’s not easy for them if they are not getting their revenue from racing.’

The campaign is postponed, with bosses determined to stage a condensed championship

As it stands, the sport’s chief executive Chase Carey, who took over from Ecclestone when Liberty Media bought the sport for £6bn in January 2017, has said he wants to stage between 15 and 18 races later in the year. He has been granted flexibility by the stakeholders to remould the calendar as he sees fit.

It is understood that teams are frustrated by Carey’s slow-moving, ultra-consensual approach. One insider told Sportsmail that while consultation is fine — a trait for which Ecclestone was not famed — ‘full-blown democracy is going too far’.

It can also be revealed it was the teams who pressed Carey, a former 21st Century Fox chief executive, into issuing a statement last Monday, in which he took the bull by the horns in stating that racing would reconvene despite the slew of eight postponements so far.

Sportsmail also understand that Carey, 66, has privately spoken to the teams and FIA about holding three races on back-to-back-to-back weekends followed by a one-week break, and of staging two races on the same track on consecutive Sundays, to cram the quart of a season into a pint pot.

The Australian GP was cancelled at the last minute as the virus accelerated its spread 

All the while, the money problems are mounting up for Liberty. Their three big revenue streams — in decreasing order of financial magnitude: race hosting fees, broadcasting rights and sponsorship — are all under threat.

Formula One, listed on the NASDAQ under the ticker FWONK, has fallen dramatically in recent weeks, before and after the cancellation of the opening race in Melbourne earlier this month. In 30 days up until March 17, the stock dropped by 60 per cent. It has, however, shown signs of revival in recent days.

At the smaller teams, the situation is critical. The absence of racing cuts out a regular revenue stream, placing them on the breadline, though they do still receive their slice of last year’s £720million prize-money fund.

A budget cap of £150m is due to be introduced next season. Talks are under way to slash that further. The sad corollary is that jobs will be shed among workforces that in the UK — where seven of the 10 teams are based — range from Williams’s 650 employees to Mercedes’s 1,500. McLaren employ 850 people on their F1 programme.

What would Bernie do?

Ideas of how to eventually get a season started include having two races on the same track 

‘In older times when people didn’t have such big staff and they ran into problems I’d always bail them out, give them a while to hand me the cash back — or sometimes we forgot to collect the money. Now it’s different scale money.

‘It’s a different world, too. Then it was on a very personal basis. They would ring up and say, “Bernie can you help?” Like dear Frank [Williams]. Nobody would then say, “You helped Frank, how about me”.

‘You did what you thought was right. Liberty are a very successful company and Mr [John] Malone [the American owner] is a very, very good business operator and he will look to see if he needs F1.

‘I would say: we think F1 is a good business and then put a big, big chunk of money behind it — to say, this is what we will invest in it.

‘I would buy all the promoters, who do a super job, take the risk from them. I’d then be in charge of running the races. That would be the first thing.

‘Then I would try to preserve the teams. I’d talk to them in a very nice way: tell them to change the way they operate. Tell them they are spending too much money — no, you’re wasting too much money. These bloody great motorhomes, for example. This is where sometimes egos get in the way.’

Rule changes to do with car design have been pushed back to 2021 after the postponements

New rules and regulations were due to come in next season. In the circumstances, they are being delayed a year to save an outlay now. Ecclestone would go further. 

‘I wouldn’t change the rules for three years,’ he says. ‘Liberty need to completely reshape things. The biggest change I would make is to create a teams’ championship. You would still have the drivers’ championship for everyone and a constructors’ championship for the big four or whatever.

‘Then I would give the less well-off teams two chassis, two engines for the season and let them run for £30m a year [Ferrari and Mercedes spend more than 10 times that]. I would then have rules and regulations — taking in the weight of the cars and engine capacity — that I knew full well meant the teams with that sort of budget would have a good chance of getting on the podium and with luck win a race.

‘At the end of the year the team that has done best on that budget would win the teams’ championship.’

Will Ecclestone, 90 in October, return to buy the sport back?

‘No chance,’ he says.





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When is The Legends Trophy Esports race? F1 and motorsport heroes set to compete today

Esports racing has come to the fore with the F1 season being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Legends Trophy is a new race that will serve as a prelude to The Race’s All-Star Esports Battle.

The event pits F1 and motorsport heroes over the age of 40 against one another.

The drivers will be using the rFactor 2 racing platform, with identical cars specifications and with a qualifying period to determine the starting grid.

Among the line-up today are two-time F1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi and three-time Indy 500 winners Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti.

“I’m really looking forward to this event and a chance to race with my old mates and competitors once again, hopefully with some really lairy cars and on a great track,” Franchitti said.

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“I got introduced to the sim world via Darren Turner and his Base Simulator business and I am loving getting to grips with some mega cars of yesteryear.

“The Legends grid that The Race has put together looks tremendous with some great buddies and old adversaries.

“It will be interesting to see which of the old men have reading glasses and which have bi-focals!”

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When is the Legends Trophy esports race?

The esports race is scheduled to start at 4pm GMT today.

How to watch the Legends Trophy race

Fans can watch the Esports action live on The Race’s YouTube channel.

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  • The Legends Trophy: Driver line-up for All-Star Esports Battle event

The Legends Trophy confirmed drivers

Emerson Fittipaldi – two-time F1 world champion

Helio Castroneves – three-time Indy 500 winner

Dario Franchitti – three-time Indy 500 winner

Juan Pablo Montoya – F1, IndyCar, NASCAR and IMSA race winner

Johnny Herbert – F1 race winner

David Brabham – Le Mans winner

Jan Magnussen – multiple Le Mans class winner and IMSA champion

Paul Tracy – IndyCar champion

Gil de Ferran – Indy 500 winner and series champion

Tony Kanaan – Indy 500 winner and series champion

Bryan Herta – IndyCar race winner

Adrian Fernandez – IndyCar race winner

Oriol Servia – IndyCar race winner

Max Papis – ex-F1, IndyCar and sportscar driver

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