Coronavirus: Australian Grand Prix reportedly called off, as international sport affected

'March Madness' - arguably the United States' biggest sporting event, along with the Super Bowl - has been cancelled, as the coronavirus impact on American sport escalates.  

The men's and women's college basketball national tournaments were due to start next week, but have now followed the demise of the regional conference playoffs abandonned early Friday (NZ time).

"This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the vents do not contribute to spread of the pandemic and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year, given ongoing decisions by other entities," the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) announced.

Organisers had planned to proceed with the tournaments behind closed doors, but quickly followed suit, when most major US sporting competitions suspended their seasons overnight.

Last year, Tall Blacks centre Jack Salt helped the University of Virginia Cavaliers to the men's title - the first Kiwi to claim that crown.

Several conference tournaments were stopped in mid-flight, with one ending at halftime of a St John's v Creighton Big East quarter-final.

PGA cancels Players Championship 

The PGA Tour has confirmed that it is canceling the remainder of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass and that it would also cancel all tour events through the Valero Texas Open in three weeks.

The decision was made after earlier in the day Commissioner Jay Monahan announced the tournament would be played in its entirety at TPC Sawgrass, but would be done so without fans.

After gathering more information, however, the tour decided to change its position and shut the event down.

Aussie Formula One Grand Prix cancelled

This weekend's season-opening Australian Formula One Grand Prix has been called off over coronavirus concerns, according to the BBC.

The report comes after McLaren withdrew from the opening race of the season, when a team member tested positive for coronavirus.

And a ninth person has reportedly been isolated and tested for the virus at Albert Park.

The coronavirus outbreak, now declared a pandemic, has led to widespread disruption of sporting fixtures.

McLaren chiefs told the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) governing body of their decision to pull out late on Thursday night, 24 hours before practice was due to start in Melbourne.

"The decision has been taken based on a duty of care, not only to McLaren F1 employees and partners, but also to the team's competitors, Formula One fans and wider F1 stakeholders," a McLaren statement said.

"The team member was tested and self-isolated as soon as they started to show symptoms, and will now be treated by local healthcare authorities.

"The team has prepared for this eventuality and has ongoing support in place for its employee, who will now enter a period of quarantine."

Earlier, six-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton admitted he found it "shocking" that the season-opener was being staged in Melbourne, amid a global coronavirus pandemic.

"I am really very, very surprised that we are here," the Mercedes star said. "For me, it is shocking that we are all sitting in this [press conference] room.

"It seems like the rest of the world is reacting. You see the NBA has been suspended, yet Formula One continues to go on - it's definitely concerning for me."

Doubt cast over Premier League season 

The English Premier League will hold emergency meetings after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19. 

The Premier League had announced fixtures would go ahead as planned, but following Arteta's positive diagnosis, things may have changed. 

Further doubt has been cast around the future of the current EPL season following confirmation Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi has the cornavirus.

The Blues’ training ground has been partially closed, while players and staff who have had close contact with the England international will now self-isolate, the club said in a statement.

This will initially include the entire Chelsea men’s first team squad, coaching team and several backroom staff. 

The second leg of Manchester City's last-16 second leg Champions League tie against Real Madrid has been postponed, after the Spanish club went into coronavirus quarantine. 

Real Madrid footballers have been forced to self-isolate, after a member of the club's basketball team tested positive for the virus.

Spanish football officials have since announced the La Liga has been suspended, following guidance from Spain's Ministry of Health.

Other European leagues to be affected include the Dutch Eredivisie and Portugal's Primeira Liga. 

Bundesliga 2 side Hannover 96 have become the second professional football team to enter into quarantine. 

Two of their players - Timo Hubers and Jannes Horn - tested positive for the coronavirus this week. 

Meanwhile, Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers has announced that three Leicester City players are in self-isolation with suspected coronavirus symptoms.

Elsewhere, Major League Soccer in the United States has suspended all games for 30 days.

UEFA will hold a video conference meeting of all 55 football federations in Europe, plus representatives of clubs, leagues and players, to discuss the impact of the coronavirus on all football in the region, including Euro 2020.

ATP Tour shuts down for six weeks

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has suspended its professional men's tour for six weeks, citing concerns over the coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement came moments after Miami-Dade County said it would suspend the Miami Open and on the heels of Sunday's last-minute cancellation of the Indian Wells tournament in Southern California.

ATP chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said the decision was not taken lightly, adding that the suspension represented a great loss for players and fans.

"We believe this is the responsible action needed at this time, in order to protect the health and safety of our players, staff, the wider tennis community and general public health in the face of this global pandemic," he said.

Impacted events include the Clay Court Championships in Houston, the Grand Prix Hassan II in Marrakech, the Monte-Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open and the Hungarian Open.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has described the coronavirus crisis as a pandemic, meaning it is spreading fast across the globe, as countries scramble to contain the outbreak.

Pro14 rugby season suspended indefinitely

The Pro14 rugby season has been suspended indefinitely in response to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak.

The move was inevitable for a league featuring Italian, Welsh, Scottish, Irish and South African teams, and the resulting fixture backlog only makes completion of 2020 Six Nations more difficult.

Pro14 says the resumption of the season will be "a matter of constant review".

"We have made this decision with everyone's welfare foremost in our minds," said tournament director David Jordan.

"With an evolving situation in the five countries that take part, it is important to make a clear decision in keeping with the advice of the various governments involved."

Irish media are reporting that Ireland's tour to Australia is also in doubt.

NHL announces 'pause' on 2019-20 season

Following in the NBA's footsteps, the NHL has decided to suspend its regular season over coronavirus concerns.

The NHL's decision comes less than 24 hours after the NBA suspended its schedule, when its first player tested positive for COVID-19.

At this point, nobody in the NHL has been affected by COVID-19, but many teams share their home arena with NBA teams. 

If the NHL is forced to go a step further, and cancel the 2019-20 season and playoffs, it would mark the third time in its history the Stanley Cup hasn’t been awarded.

The Spanish flu forced the cancellation of the 1919 Cup final, while the entire 2004-05 campaign was lost to a lockout.

Second Jazz player tests positive 

The Utah Jazz have confirmed a second player has tested positive for COVID-19, with All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell confirming on Instagram he has tested positive.

The Jazz were about to face Steven Adams' Oklahoma City Thunder, but the game was called off, after centre Rudy Gobert tested positive seconds before tipoff.

There are fears for the Jazz's opponents over the past 10 days, so the NBA has told the Cleveland Cavaliers, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors that their players should self-quarantine.

Cricket matches to be played behind closed doors

The remaining two one-dayers of the ongoing series between India and South Africa will be played to empty stadiums.

Lucknow will host the second ODI on March 16 and Kolkata the final ODI on March 18.

Meanwhile, ESPN reports the Australia women's tour to South Africa has been called off. 

Premier League Darts in Rotterdam postponed

The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) has confirmed the Prermier League doubleheader at Rotterdam Ahoy, scheduled for March 26-27, is the latest event to be postponed, due to coronavirus. 

Three PDC European Tour events planned for Germany during March and April were postponed earlier this week, due to regional federal governments restrictions.

The Rotterdam doubleheader often produces one of the best atmospheres in professional darts, but Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that all gatherings of more than 100 people were banned in the Netherlands until the end of March. 

Friday's Premier League night in Liverpool is scheduled to go ahead, but there are fears for the remainder of the tournament, which runs weekly until May 22. 

Other sporting events affected by the coronavirus epidemic this week, include:

  • Other sporting events affected by the coronavirus epidemic this week, include:
  • The inuguaral Piha Pro surfing event has been cancelled due to coronavirus. 
  • The Blackcaps' Chappell-Hadlee series against Austraia will be played behind closed doors. 
  • 'March Madness' - arguably the United States' biggest sporting event, along with the Super Bowl - has been cancelled.
  • The Dutch Eredivisie, Spannish La Liga and Portugal's Primeira Liga football leagues have been suspended.
  • Tennis' ATP Tour has shut down for six weeks. 
  • The Pro14 rugby season has been suspended indefinitely.
  • Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams was caught up in the US coronavirus scare, when the scheduled game between his Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz was abandoned just before tipoff.
  • The NBA has suspended the current season due to the coronavirus outbreak. Other American leagues include the NHL, MLS and MLR.
  • A player from the AFL's Fremantle Dockers has been sent in for a precuationary coronavirus test. The unnamed player came down with flu-like symptoms, after he had contact with a friend who had been in China earlier this year.
  • Black Sticks men and women will not travel to Europe for the latest round of Pro League games in Netherlands and Germany.
  • NZ Breakers and Tall Blacks star Corey Webster has been derailed for a second time, with the Italian basketball league closed down by the epidemic.
  • WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) has requested its performers decline handshakes with fans at autograph and meet & greet sessions.
  • Saturday's Ireland v France Six Nations rugby clash, scheduled for Paris, has been postponed, after the French government banned gatherings of more than 1000 people.
  • The Olympic flame lighting ceremony at ancient Olympia on March 19 will take place without spectators, only 100 accredited guests from the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organising committee.
  • FIFA 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers scheduled for March 23-31 and June 1-9 have been postponed.