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Coronavirus and sports: What happened in March 2020?

April 24, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic brought the world of sports to a standstill in March 2020 with major sporting evetns cancelled or postponed across the globe. Recap DW's timeline of how it all unfolded.

Japan Tokio Olympische Spiele verschoben  "Tokyo 2021"
Image: Reuters/D. Ruvic

March 31

-- Bundesliga eyeing May return

The Bundesliga remains hopeful it can resume the 2019/20 season from May, as the German Football League (DFL) confirmed its suspension until at least April 30.

The 36 clubs that make up the top two flights of German football approved the extension of the league break until at least the end of April as recommended by the DFL Executive Committee at a "virtual assembly" via video link.

The DFL haven’t ruled out the Bundesliga returning from May, with the remaining games of the season played behind closed doors.

League CEO Christian Seifert explained at a press conference on Tuesday his vision for how the season can be played out by the stated deadline of June 30.

"We are developing for all 36 teams a concept for how games can be played with the least possible temporary deployment of staff, even if games have to be played without fans," said Seifert, who also confirmed that a "medical taskforce" has been established to investigate precisely how the remaining games can be played safety.

Losses for Bundesliga clubs could reach €750 million ($829 million) if the season isn’t played out, with the crisis posing an existential threat to some smaller clubs. With this in mind, the DFL have also taken the step to reduce the points deduction for insolvency from nine points to three.

-- Eintracht Frankfurt duo recovering

The two unnamed Frankfurt players that tested positive for COVID-19 are recovering well, according to the club’s sporting director Fredi Bobic.

“They are really well, they were quickly over the worst of it,” Bobic said, as the players in question continue to remain in isolation.

Bobic went on to say he hopes the Bundesliga can resume in May or June, and believes that is necessary to avoid German clubs going out of business.

"That is our declared goal,” the former German forward said. “It would be a fiasco to lose a club. We just have to take a deep breath and get through this."

-- First Olympian dies of COVID-19

The former sprinter Pearson Jordan, who represented Barbados in the 100 meters and 100-meter relay at the 1976 Olympics, has died after contracting COVID-19.

Jordan, who was 69, is believed to be the first Olympian to fall victim to the coronavirus.

-- MSK Zilina go bust

The top Slovakian football club MSK Zilina have become the first prominent victims of the coronavirus crisis. 

The seven-time champions, founded in 1909, have been placed under the control of an insolvency administrator, who immediately terminated the contracts of 17 players. The players had reportedly refused to agree to a salary cut of up to 80 percent.

March 30

-- New dates for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Organizers of the postponed Toyko Olympics have confirmed that the Games will now start on July 23, 2021, and end on August 8, with the Paralympics now set for August 24 to September 5.

Tokyo 2020 was postponed last week and the IOC recently confirmed that athletes who have already qualified will keep their spot next year.

"With this announcement, I am confident that, working together with the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Japanese Government and all our stakeholders, we can master this unprecedented challenge. Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.

The new dates will likely mean that football's Women's European Championships and the World Athletics Championships will be pushed back.

-- BVB back in outdoor training

Unlike rivals Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund are returning to training outdoors. On Monday, the Bundesliga outfit will train in pairs and observe social distancing protocols.

January signing Emre Can said he’s looking forward to getting back to work, even if it’s a little odd.

"It’s important that we get back on the field," the former Liverpool midfielder, whose training partner will be Mahmoud Dahoud, told German broadcaster Sport1. "So it doesn't get boring."

Can also spoke about the club’s decision to donate €20 million to help out smaller clubs and the pay cut taken by the players to aid club staff.

"It was very quick for us in the team," he said. "We footballers have a responsibility, we earn a lot of money and want to give something back."

-- Barcelona pay cut

Barcelona have confirmed that their players will take a 70% pay cut during the coronavirus pandemic.

The La Liga giants say the initiative will allow all other club employees to maintain their full salaries.

-- Gündogan: Handing Premier League to Liverpool would be 'fair'

Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gündogan believes Liverpool should be awarded the Premier League title, even if the season is cut short.

Asked if the Reds, who sit 25 points clear of Gündogan's Manchester City having played a game more, should be given the trophy in such circumstances, Gündogan told German broadcaster ZDF: "For me, that would be OK, yes."

"You have to be fair as a sportsperson," the 29-year-old added.

The Premier League season is currently postponed until at least the end of April, with clubs set to meet to discuss further delays later this week.

-- Wimbledon to be scrapped this week

Dirk Hordorff, vice-president of the German Tennis Federation, has told Sky Sport Germany that the cancellation of Wimbledon 2020 is likely to be announced this week.

"Wimbledon has stated that they will have a board meeting next Wednesday and will make the final decision there," he said.

"I am also involved in the bodies of the ATP and WTA. The necessary decisions have already been made there and Wimbledon will decide to cancel next Wednesday. There is no doubt about it. This is necessary in the current situation.

"It is completely unrealistic to imagine that with the travel restrictions that we currently have an international tennis tournament where hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world would travel. That is unthinkable."

The All England Lawn Tennis Club, who organize the event, have previously confirmed that it will not be played behind closed doors.

March 29

-- F1 season could run in to 2021

With the Formula 1 season currently suspended, Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has claimed the World Championship could end up being extended in to January 2021.

The first eight races have been called off and Binotto said teams are in "constant dialogue" with F1 on how to proceed.

"We're assessing various ideas - races closer together, maybe doing two or three races in January, cancelling practice," he said.

-- New Olympic dates set — reports

The postponed Tokyo Olympics appear set set to have almost exactly the same time slot in 2021 as originally planned for this year, according to various reports on Sunday.

Japanese broadcasters NHK say the preferred option is to open the Games on July 23, with the closing ceremony on August 8, citing sources familiar with the matter. 

The Games were originally set for July 24-August 9 this year before being pushed back in an unprecedented move by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and local organizers because of the coronavirus pandemic.

-- Golfers get together for video message

Some of the world's top golfers, including Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia and Germany's Martin Kaymer have recorded a video message tweeted at the World Health Organization (WHO) in which they remind fans that the real heroes are not golfers but doctors and nurses battling the coronavirus.

March 28

-- UEFA boss admits "season could be lost"

There is still hope that Europe's domestic football leagues can finish their season this year, according to UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.

 "We could start again in mid-May, in June or even late June," Ceferin told Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

But he warned that any time after that and "the season will probably be lost."

The postponement of Euro 2020 until 2021 means there is currently a gap in the football schedule in the European summer.

-- Barcelona donate 30,000 masks

La Liga giants Barcelona have delivered 30,000 masks to the government of  Catalonia to help fight the coronavirus pandemic, the club said on Saturday.

Barcelona said the "daily use'' masks will be distributed to nursing homes, adding that it is working through its foundation "to do as much as possible to help with this crisis, both locally and internationally.''

Earlier this week, Barca's players agreed to take a pay cut as the virus continues to have a devastating impact on Spain. 

 -- Cologne players ready to take salary cut

Following in the lead of clubs such as Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke, Cologne's playing squad have signalled they are ready to waive part of their salaries in order to help club staff.

Team representatives led by captain Jonas Hector reportedly met with club officials on Friday. Coach Markus Gisdol said that no details wold be released but that "such things (as giving up some money) are just natural for us and for me."

-- Reus donates to Dortmund

Marco Reus has announced that he and his wife Scarlett have donated €500,000 to help the people and smaller businesses of his hometown, Dortmund as part of the #HelpYourHometown initiative.

"The face and character of every city is in danger," wrote the Borussia Dortmund skipper in a statement. "We have already heard about the fates of so many small barber shops, pubs, restaurants and boutiques and this is where we would like to help."

Reus and his teammates have already taken a wage cut in order to support club staff. Ex-dortmunder Ilkay Gündogan has been doing his bit too. 

March 27

-- Pokal postponement

Not unexpected this one, but the German Cup quarterfinals have been put on ice for now.

-- Schalke players the latest to take pay cut

Following in the footsteps of several other Bundesliga clubs, Schalke have announced that their players have agreed to waive a portion of their salary and bonuses to help support the club's 600 employees.

A press release sent on Friday also stated that members of the club's board, coaches and some support staff will make similar sacrifices. 

"The fact that the players are aware of their great responsibility in this way and pledge their total solidarity is a great sign of loyalty," said sports board member Jochen Schneider. "It is a very clear signal: we all stand together for our FC Schalke 04, not only in good times, but especially in bad." 

-- Athletics postpones more meetings

Three more Diamond League meetings have been postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Events in Stockholm (May 24) Naples/Rome (May 28) and Rabat (May 31) have been postponed, organizers said on Friday, joining previous events in Qatar and China in being removed from the calendar.

"The dynamic global spread of the Covid-19 disease, the travel restrictions expected to be in force for some time and above all concerns over athlete safety have made it impossible to stage the competitions as planned," the Diamond League said in a statement.

March 26

-- Bundesliga clubs announce €20m solidarity package

This season’s initial German Champions League representatives, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen, have announced a €20m ($22m) solidarity fund to help other Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 clubs during the current crisis.

Former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness demanded in an interview with Kicker magazine on Thursday that “solidarity must now be acted on, not just talked about” – and the clubs have responded.

The four clubs have agreed to waive their share of revenue from next season’s domestic media rights, freeing up around €12.5m, which the clubs have rounded up to €20m.

"We have always said that we will demonstrate solidarity with clubs who fall into difficulties through no fault of their own during this unprecedented situation," said Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke, whose own club benefited from a €2m loan from Bayern Munich during their own insolvency crisis in 2005.

"This initiative underlines that solidarity in the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 is not just cheap talk," said German Football League (DFL) boss Christian Seifert, expressing his gratitude.

The DFL’s board will decide on the criteria for the distribution of the funds.

-- 'I can't imagine €100m transfers in the near future'

Former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness believes the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting effect on transfer fees. 

"I can't imagine €100 million transfers in the near future,“ he told German football magazine Kicker in an interview on Thursday. "Transfer fees will drop, the amounts will not recover to the previous level in the next two or three years. There will very likely be a new football world."

The 68-year-old, who stepped down from his role with the perennial German champions last year, has long been publicly critical of large transfer fees and said last May that Bayern would "not like to buy any player for €80 million or €100 million."

The Bavarians‘ current transfer record is the €80 million ($87.5 million) they spent on French defender Lucas Hernandez. The squad recently announced they will donate 20 per cent of their wages to help the club's employees during the current crisis.

-- Max Kruse contracts virus - reports

Former Werder Bremen and Germany forward Max Kruse has tested positive for the coronavirus, according to reports in Turkey, where he now plays for Istanbul-based side Fenerbahce.

Like most European sports leagues, the Turkey's top division is on hold. Kruse, 32, and his teammates were believed to be self-isolating. Kruse spoke about the virus in a recent interview.

"I hope that things will normalize as soon as possible and that the spread of the virus can be contained. Personally, I am not afraid, but of course one has to worry more about elderly people or people with previous illnesses. Of course I am concerned about my parents."

-- Chess World Championship qualifier called off

The chess tournament in the Russian city of Ekaterinburg to determine who will win the right to challenge world champion Magnus Carlsen has been called off due to the cononavirus. This was announced by Arkady Dvorkovich, the president of FIDE, the world governing body on Thursday.       

The eight-player tournament is to continue at a later date. Following Wednesday's round, Russia's Ian Nepomnijatschi and Maxime Vachier-Lagrave from France were in the lead with 4.5 points each. The favorite, Fabio Caruana of the USA, trailed with four points.

March 25

-- Hübers recovers

After two weeks in quarantine, Hannover's Timo Hübers, one of the first professional footballers to be diagnosed with the coronavirus, has been given the all clear.

-- NFL orders closures

The NFL has ordered all its teams to close their facilities, effective from 18:00 local time for each team. The league has offered a few exceptions, such as those giving medical treatment, IT workers or security personnel. 

In a memo sent to teams Tuesday night, commissioner Roger Goodell said the rules were meant to "ensure that all clubs operate on a level playing field, and that the NFL continues to conduct itself in a responsible way at this time."

Goodell said the directives had been reviewed and endorsed by the NFL's competition committee and "will remain in effect until further notice."

"During this time, clubs are free to conduct all normal business operations, including signing players, evaluating draft-eligible prospects, selling tickets, and other activities to prepare for the 2020 season," the memo said.

-- CHIO postponed 

One of the most prestigious events in the equestrian calendar, CHIO Aachen, has become the latest event postponed as a result of the pandemic. The Twitter account of the annual event held in Aachen, Germany said it: "will not take place on the originally planned date (May 29 to June 7). The aim is to hold the World Equestrian Festival later in the year."

March 24

-- DFL to recommend Bundesliga suspension until April 30 

The German Football League (DFL) will recommend the continued suspension of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 until at least April 30 when the 36 clubs next convene on March 31.

The league is still aiming to complete the domestic season by the end of June, due to what a statement calls "the potentially existential threat" faced by some clubs and the 56,000 people directly or indirectly employed on matchdays.

To this end, the league says it is working on various scenarios to finish the season this summer, including matches behind closed doors and with a minimal number of logistical workers and media representatives.

-- Borussia Dortmund players and others donate wages

Borussia Dortmund players have voluntarily given up part of their wages in order to help support the club's 850 employees and their families, in what CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has called a "valuable symbol of solidarity" during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to tabloid BILD, the players agreed upon a staggered model whereby they will accept a 20 percent reduction in wages while play is suspended, and a ten percent reduction for games behind closed doors.

The club says it will save over ten million euros this way, with coaching staff and directors including Watzke, coach Lucien Favre, sporting director Michael Zorc and head of professional football Sebastian Kehl also taking a pay cut.

Borussia Mönchengladbach, Werder Bremen, Bayern Munich and Karlsruher SC are among the clubs whose players have already agreed to a reduction in wages. Eintracht Frankfurt sporting director Fredi Bobic and Hamburg coach Dieter Hecking say their players have already suggested doing the same. Schalke, Bayer Leverkusen and no doubt others are expected to follow.

-- Olympic and Paralympic Games postponed

As pressure mounted from National Olympic Committees and athletes' organizations across the world, the International Olympic Committee agreed to a request from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to postpone Tokyo 2020 until 2021. Read the full story here.

The Paralympic Games, which were due follow immediately after the Olympics, have also been postponed.

March 23

-- UEFA finals postponed, Maldini tests positive

UEFA has announced that the finals of its flagship club competitions, the Women's Champions League, the Europa League and the Champions League, have been postponed. 

The matches were scheduled to take place on May 24, 27 and 30 respectively but have now been put back to an as yet unspecified date.

In a statement, UEFA said that a working group had already begun examining the calendar in order to identify new possible dates.

Meanwhile, late on Monday night, the former Italy and AC Milan captain Paolo Maldini was diagnosed with coronavirus. The five-time Champions League winner, who is now technical director at Milan, said in an Instagram video that he is in self-isolation with his 18-year-old son Daniel, a youth team player, and that he expects to recover "within a week."

-- Pressure grows on IOC over Olympics decision

The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, and the President of World Athletics, Sebastian Coe, have expressed severe doubts over the feasibility of staging the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as planned, while the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee also says a postponement should be "considered."

The IOC tried to buy itself time on Sunday evening when it announced that a final decision on whether or not to postpone the Games, scheduled for July 24 – August 9, would be made in the next four weeks, but the pressure is now growing from all sides.

"If I'm asked whether the Olympics can be held at this moment, I would have to say the world is not in such a condition," Prime Minister Abe told a Japanese parliamentary session on Monday morning. "It may become inevitable that we make a decision to postpone,” he added, saying that he hoped to have an opportunity to discuss the issue with IOC President Thomas Bach.

In a letter to Bach penned ahead of the IOC’s Sunday conference, World Athletics chief Coe wrote that going ahead with the Games this summer as planned would be "neither feasible nor desirable."

Coe’s comments echoed those of an increasing number of athletes, including German 2016 Olympic javelin champion Thomas Röhler. "I am in favour of a postponement until 2021, next year offers the greatest security," the 28-year-old told SID.

On Monday morning, the head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, Yasuhiro Yamashita, said: "From the athletes' point of view of safety and security, we have to come to a stage where we cannot help but consider things including postponement."

IOC boss Bach, however, continues to underline the huge logistical and financial challenges of moving the Games back, saying: "Rescheduling the Olympic Games is not like postponing a football match until next Saturday."

-- German Paralympic Committee demands postponement

The National Paralympic Committee Germany (DBS) has demanded that the 2020 Paralympic Games be postponed.

The Paralympics are scheduled to take place from August 25 - September 6, immediately after the Olympics, but the DBS said in a statement on Monday afternoon that a "postponement is without alternative."

"A decision must be made immediately," the statement continued. "We all need planning certainty."

-- La Liga suspended until further notice

The Spanish Football Association (RFEF) and Football League have agreed to suspend La Liga "until the relevant authorities consider that competition can be resumed without risk to health."

La Liga announced a 14-day suspension on March 12 at the same time that Real Madrid confirmed that one of the players on the club’s basketball team had tested positive for coronavirus. Former Real president, Lorenzo Sanz, died aged 76 on Sunday after contracting COVID-19.

Now, following a meeting on Monday morning, RFEF and La Liga have postponed competition indefinitely, and have also expressed their thanks to Spain’s health workers and others working in essential industries.

March 22

-- AFL postpones season

Australia's professional Australian rules football competition has postponed its season after just one round due to the coronavirus. The women's season has been canceled, with no premiership to be awarded. AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said it was an understatement to say the coronavirus posed "the most serious threat to our game in 100 years."

The first round of games were played behind closed doors. Although the league are keen to play the remaining 144 matches of the 2020 season, the AFL have said no matches would be played before at least June.

-- German athletes speak out against IOC

German fencer Max Hartung has stated that he will not take part in the Tokyo Olympics should the Games go ahead as planned at the end of July.

Hartung, who represented Germany at London 2012 and Rio 2016 and chairs the "Athleten Deutschland" union, said the decision has "broken his heart," but he hopes his stance will send a message in the discussion around a potential postponement of the Games.

Speaking to German broadcaster ZDF on Saturday evening, Hartung was joined by cyclist Maximilian Schachmann, boxer Nadine Apetz and the president of the German Athletics Federation Jürgen Kessing as he called on the IOC to "break the deadlock" and postpone the Games.

-- Former Real Madrid president dies

The former Real Madrid president, Lorenzo Sanz, has died aged 76 due to COVID-19. He had initially decided to stay home when he was first diagnosed rather than add to the pressure of an already wilting Spanish health service due to the number of infections in the country. However, he was finally admitted to hospital on Tuesday after suffering from fever for eight days.

Sanz presided over the Spanish football club in the late 1990s when the giants lifted the European Cup in 1998 after a 32-year wait.

March 21

-- Ice Hockey Worlds scrapped

As expected, the 2020 Men's Ice Hockey World Championship has been canceled. It was set to be played in Switzerland, starting on May 8. The Women's Championship was abandoned earlier this month.

"This is a harsh reality to face for the international ice hockey family, but one that we must accept," said IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) President Rene Fasel.

Postponement to another year would have been tricky, given that the host countries for the forthcoming championships are fixed until 2025.

-- Wolfsburg star gives up ten percent 

Many footballers have shown their support for those in need during the spread of the coronavirus, and after Gladbach announced their players would forgo some of their salary, Wolfsburg women's midfielder Ingrid Syrstad Engen announced on Instagram she would waive 10 percent of her pay in order to help those who "really need financial support."

The Norwegian said she hopes "more players will get involved and take action - to give back to the communities who support us and cheer us on."

-- UEFA backtrack on Euros name

Despite initially tweeting out that its flagship international tournament would still be called Euro 2020 after being postponed until 2021, UEFA have quickly u-turned on the idea.

Social media users predictably made light of the initial decision and European football's governing body now say nothing is decided and that they made a mistake. 

March 20

-- Euros to maintain name

Despite the competition being postponed until 2021, Euro 2020 will still be called Euro 2020, according to an announcement from organizers UEFA today.

-- Italian football pledges to help health system

Italian soccer clubs, players and fans have clubbed together to raise millions of euros to support the country’s stretched health system. The country is one of the worst hit by the coronavirus and 13 Serie A players have so far tested positive, including Juventus’ French midfielder Blaise Matuidi and Hellas Verona player Mattia Zaccagni.

But a series of gestures have expressed football's solidarity with wider society. AS Roma delivered 8,000 pairs of protective gloves and 2,000 bottles of hand sanitiser to churches around the capital, Inter Milan donated 300,000 face masks to the public health department while crowdfunding campaigns set up by Roma, AC Milan, Juventus and Fiorentina have each raised more than €420,000.

Owners have also chipped in. Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, owner of third-tier soccer team AC Monza and former President of AC Milan, made a €10 million-euro donation to the Lombardy region on Tuesday to help build a 400-bed intensive care unit.

The Agnelli family, owners of Juventus football club and the Fiat Chrysler Group, matched the sum to support the national health service, while Juve announced that the family holding company Exor is in the process of buying 150 artificial respirators for Italian hospitals.

March 19

-- Grand Prixs moved back in three countries

The FIA, motorsports' governing body have announced that Grand Prixs in the Netherlands, Spain and Monaco in May have all been postponed.

“Formula 1, the FIA and the three promoters have taken these decisions in order to ensure the health and safety of the travelling staff, championship participants and fans, which remains our primary concern," read a joint statement.

Organizers hope to find alternative dates later in the year and currently plan to start the season “as soon as it’s safe to do so after May”.

-- Premier League further postponed.

The Premier League and the English Football League announced on Thursday that their seasons will be further postponed until at least April 30 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

"The progress of Covid-19 remains unclear and we can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority," a statement said.

Under normal circumstances, the English season cannot extend past June 1 but but it was agreed this can be "extended indefinitely" for the 2019/20 campaign, meaning the current season will be completed.

UEFA's decision to move Euro 2020 back a year has allowed domestic leagues a greater degree of flexibility in their scheduling.

-- Olympic torch passed despite doubts

The Olympic flame has now officially been passed from Greece to Tokyo despite widespread doubts that the Games can start as planned in July.

Former Japanese swimmer Naoko Imoto, who lives in Greece, was handed the torch last week in a near empty Panathenaic Stadium which hosted the first modern Olympics in 1896. 

Greek Olympic Committee chief Spyros Capralos said "we hope the Olympic Flame extinguishes the virus" while Japanese organizing committee president Yoshiro Mori made his address via video link, hoping the flame's arrival Friday would help "shake
off the dark clouds hanging over the world."

The Olympics is one of the few sporting events that has yet to announce changes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. But it may only be a matter of time.

-- Gladbach players step up

Borussia Mönchengladbach have announced that their players will contribute €1 million a month to assist with covering the income of the club's many other employees.

The club says it's the first in Germany to launch such a scheme though Germany's national team players made a similar announcement on Wednesday.

"I'm very proud of the boys," sporting director Max Eberl told the Rheinische Post newspaper. "We stand together for Borussia, in good times and in bad. They want to give something back to Borussia as well as to all the fans who support us."

-- Bayern Munich reveal quarantine training regime

Bayern Munich have answered questions from fans about how they’re dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

The club has decided against sending their players to work, even in controlled, smaller groups to help reduce the spread of the disease. Instead they’ve started “Cyber Training”, as they call it. 

That involves players collectively training together via tablets, with sessions lasting up to 90 minutes and involving strength, endurance and interval training.

The players are all fitted with fitness watches, which sends all the data back to Bayern’s HQ, while coach Hansi Flick has also been briefing groups of players via video calls.

“We are also prepared for the possibility of a lockdown, which seems conceivable,” Flick said.

As for the financial situation, the club has admitted that it is in a position to deal with the immediate effects. However, Bayern CFO Jan-Christian Dreesen said they couldn’t say how serious the economic impact would be if the situation worsens.

“One thing is already clear: in national and international football, clubs, leagues and associations face huge challenges to stay afloat,” Bayern CFO Jan-Christian Dreesen said.

March 18

-- Tennis associations extend season suspension

The governing bodies of men's and women's tennis, the ATP and the WTA, have extended the suspension of their tours until June 7.

In a joint statement released on Wednesday, they said the claycourt season "will not be held as scheduled" due to the suspension. The men's ATP and women's WTA rankings will be frozen for the time being.

"The challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to professional tennis demand greater collaboration than ever from everyone in the tennis community," the associations said.

"We are assessing all options related to preserving and maximising the tennis calendar."

-- RB Leipzig boss wants season to finish, concerned for future

They're considered one of the Bundesliga's richest clubs, but even RB Leipzig appear to be worried about their financial future during football's shutdown.

"The longer the pandemic lasts, the more it threatens the existence of some clubs. If it is somehow possible, we must finish the season," said CEO Oliver Mintzlaff in a Twitter thread on the club account.

"We have more than 400 employees. Our primary goal is to not have to cut any jobs. For that reason, we have put measures in place to make some drastic changes. The absolute focus is on the key business.

"At some point, we will no longer be able to cope financially with the Bundesliga being suspended and logically we can't just pay everyone's salaries indefinitely if the our revenues are on hold long term."

Mintzlaff appeared to suggest that the Red Bull-backed outfit would be looking at ways to help less well off clubs once they'd secured their own finances.

-- English lower league clubs offered financial aid

The English Football League, responsible for the country's professional clubs below the Premier League, has offered announced a €53  million ($58 million) relief package to assist financially stricken clubs during the shutdown caused by the coronavirus.

Some teams fear they could be forced out of business if football doesn't return until after the summer, with finances often on a knife edge in the lower divisions.

The head of Germany's football leagues admitted recently that his organization may be forced in to making similar choices soon.

-- No "ideal" solution for Tokyo Olympics

The International Olympic Committee acknowledged on Wednesday that there was no "ideal" solution regarding the staging of the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo amid the current pandemic.

"This is an exceptional situation which requires exceptional solutions," a spokesperson said. "The IOC is committed to finding a solution with the least negative impact for the athletes, while protecting the integrity of the competition and the athletes' health. No solution will be ideal in this situation, and this is why we are counting on the responsibility and solidarity of the athletes."

The IOC had come in for criticism from leading athletes that they would be forced to take health risks should the Games go ahead as planned from July 24 to August 9 in the Japanese capital.

--- Hoffenheim set up help fund 

Bundesliga side TSG 1899 Hoffenheim will set up an assistance fund for people "whose livelihoods are dependent on matchday operations in the Bundesliga" and other institutions in Germany's Rhein-Neckar region affected financially by the coronavirus pandemic.

The postponement of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 until April at the earliest, and likely beyond, hasn't just left players and fans at a loose end at weekends; the suspension of matchday activities also has a severe financial effect on 56,000 jobs connected to the leagues.

"We are deeply rooted in our region and we feel a great deal of responsibility for the people who live here," said CEO Peter Görlich, while his colleague Frank Briel added: "Professional football is in a privileged position and our solidarity and engagement is required, especially in the current crisis, the likes of which we have never seen before."

Hoffenheim owner and benefactor Dietmar Hopp, who has bankrolled the club's rise to the Bundesliga to the tune of over €350m and obtained an exemption from the 50+1 rule in 2015, will contribute a "considerable" sum to the fund from his own private wealth.

Team captain Benjamin Hübner also confirmed that the players will also be contributing to the fund.

-- Ex-DFB bosses welcome postponement of 2006 World Cup corruption trial

Theo Zwanziger and Wolfgang Niersbach have called the temporary suspension of their 2006 World Cup trial "inevitable" and "sensible."

The two former German Football Association (DFB) presidents, plus former DFB treasurer and general secretary Horst Schmidt (78) and ex-FIFA general secretary Urs Linsi (70), are accused of having covered up a payment of €6.7m ($7.35m) to FIFA during the bidding process for the 2006 World Cup which was ultimately awarded to Germany.

But, after Switzerland announced special measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus on Tuesday, including the recommendation that particular risk groups remain at home and avoid large gatherings, the Swiss Federal Criminal Court decided to postpone the trial. 

"I think it's the correct decision, there is no alternative," Niersbach (69) told SID on Wednesday, while Zwanziger (74) called the postponement "sensible."

"The accused are all over the age of 65 and some have underlying medical conditions, and so they belong to a risk group," said the court. Initial sentencing in the case was due by April 27 but it now seems unlikely that the process will be able to be continued on schedule.

-- Chelsea FC make hotel available to British medical staff

Premier League side Chelsea have opened up the Millennium Hotel at their Stamford Bridge ground in West London to Britain's National Health Service, in order to provide free accommodation to medical staff battling the coronavirus.

"Many of the medical staff will be working long shifts and may not be able to travel home or would otherwise have to make long commutes," the club said in a statement. "Local accommodation helps maintain the health and well-being of these crucial personnel at this critical time."

The club will initially make the hotel available for a two-month period with costs covered by Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich. They will then reconsider the situation in May.

March 17

-- French Open the latest postponement

The first tennis grand slam to fall victim to the coronavirus is the French Open. The French Tennis Federation announced on Tuesday that the clay court event will run from September 20 to October 4, rather than starting on May 24, as was originally arranged. 

-- More major events pushed back

Hot on the heels of UEFA's announcement came the news that the Copa America has been moved to 2021 while the Africa Cup of Nations has been postponed indefinitely. Still no official word on the Women's Euros, which may be moved from 2021 to 2022 as a result of the changes to the men's tournament.

In other sports, the Kentucky Derby, America's biggest horse race, has been moved from May 2 to September 5. 

-- Euro 2020 pushed back a year

According to the Norwegian FA that is, who broke ranks on Tuesday to unilaterally announce that Euro 2020 would become Euro 2021 and be played between June 11 and July 11. Much more on that story here.

-- Tokyo Olympic boss has virus

Another positive diagnosis, and this one could have far-reaching implications. Japan Olympic Committee deputy chief Kozo Tashima announced on Tuesday that he had contracted coronavirus.

"Today, my test result showed positive for the new coronavirus," Tashima said in a statement, issued via the Japan Football Association, which he also heads.

"I have a mild fever. Examinations showed a symptom of pneumonia, but I'm fine. I will concentrate on treatment following doctors' advice," he said.

Though officials have been largely positive about the chances of Tokyo 2020 going ahead, Tashima's positive results has increased speculation that the spread of coronavirus may lead to their cancellation. His announcement came as the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee said it would scale down festivities related to the Olympic torch relay to prevent further spread of the virus.

-- Hertha player tests positive

A second Bundesliga player, has tested positive for the coronavirus. After Paderborn's Luca Kilian, an unknown Hertha Berlin player has fallen ill. The club say "players, coaches and backroom staff will now undergo the recommended 14-day isolation period."

A number of players in Germany's second tier have also contracted the virus.

March 16

-- Bundesliga postponement ongoing

After a meeting involving Bundesliga clubs and other stakeholders, the German football league (DFL) has confirmed that all games will be suspended until April 2, which we pretty much knew already.

The DFL's CEO Christian Seifert spoke of the concerns about the tens of thousands of jobs that rely on football in Germany and said more games behind closed doors were a real possibility.

"I am aware that football is viewed a billion-dollar business. But at the centre of it all is the game itself, and the 56,000 jobs dependent on it every match day. Without sponsorship and ,TV income, those jobs and the very existence of clubs is in danger," Seifert said.

He also acknowledged that any decision made by UEFA tomorrow would be key.

-- Olympic chief remains confident on Games, public less so 

The leader of the IOC's coordination commission for the Tokyo Olympics, John Coates, says he believes the Games will go ahead as planned. 

The Australian, who will have to go into government-mandated self-isolation when he returns to his homeland this week from Olympic business in Europe, told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper: "It's all proceeding to start on the 24th of July.''

However, a Kyodo News survey released on Monday showed that just 24.5 per cent of Tokyo residents expect to see the Tokyo Games take place from July 24 to August 9 as planned, while 69.9 per cent do not.

-- Wuhan footballers set to return to China

German newspaper the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that players from Chinese Super League (CSL) outfit Wuhan Zall, based in the city where the coronavirus was first reported, are to return to China. Like many other teams and the Chinese national side, they had been training abroad - in Zall's case in Spain since January - but the spread of the virus will see them return. 

 Wuhan will reportedly continue their chaotic pre-season preparations in Shenzhen. Leo Baptistao, Wuhan's Brazilian forward, told Chinese media before departing Spain that the situation "has flipped".

 "We are more in danger (here). It now appears... better to leave," he said. Other Chinese clubs, including Fabio Cannavaro's CSL champions Guangzhou Evergrande, who were in Dubai, and runners-up Beijing Guoan are among those who have recently returned to China.

-- Horse racing set to stop, big day for German football

Today is the day where the DFL is expected to rule on the potential return of professional football to Germany but other sports are only just starting to shut down. Horse racing in Australia, Ireland and the UK, where about 250,000 people attended the recent Cheltenham Festival, is expected to start its closure processes today.

Meanwhile, news agency Reuters reports that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will hold talks with heads of international sports organisations on Tuesday in response to the coronavirus outbreak. While the meeting unscheduled, it is not thought a decision on the future of the Games will be made.

March 15

-- Bundesliga back after Easter? — reports

The Bundesliga could return to action as early as the middle of April, according to reports in Germany.

When the county's top 36 professional clubs meet in Frankfurt on Monday to discuss their next course of action, the German Football League (DFL) is set to propose resuming competition on the weekend of 17-18 April, football magazine 11Freunde reported on Sunday.

Bundesliga matchday 26 was suspended on Friday due to the spread of the coronavirus and the DFL, according to the report, will recommend that matchdays 27, 28 and 29 also be postponed before play resumes in mid-April. The four postponed matchdays would then be played mid-week in order to ensure the league is finished by the end of May.

For many clubs, simply cancelling the season outright could be financially disastrous. Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was widely criticized for his remark that "professional football is also about finances" but, according to the German Press Agency (DPA), German clubs could stand to lose a combined estimate of around €750m ($833.4m) plunging many of them into existential crisis and threatening thousands of jobs. 

Should the DFL's suggestion be accepted, however, matches will most probably continue to take place behind closed doors for the forseeable future.

"We won't experience a normal football match for a long time," Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke told public broadcaster ARD on Sunday. "If we do play again this season, it will be behind closed doors - that much is clear."

Former Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness remains skeptical. "I think it's charlatan behavior to say what could happen in four weeks' time," he said on German television on Sunday. "We need to give the scientists time to find a solution. Anything else is nonsense."

-- UEFA to suggest Euro 2020 delay

UEFA is set to suggest to national associations and clubs that Euro 2020 be postponed when representatives convene for an emergency video-conference call on Tuesday.

According to German broadcaster ZDF, European football's governing body will propose two alternative dates for the tournament, which is due to take place across 12 European countries from June 12 to July 12.

The first alternative, and the solution preferred by UEFA, is to postpone the tournament until summer 2021. However, this would be dependent on FIFA President Gianni Infantino agreeing to put his plans for new, expanded Club World Cup on ice.

The second alternative would be to stage the tournament in autumn or winter 2020, although this could be problematic given the clubs' busy calendars and, assuming national league competitions aren't cancelled altogether, the potential need to catch up on postponed fixtures from this season.

On Sunday, the president of the Italian Football Association, Gabriele Gravina, also called for Euro 2020 to be postponed in order to complete the Serie A season, which is currently suspended.

"We will propose to UEFA the delay of the European championship," he told broadcaster SportMediaset. "We will try to get to the end of this [Serie A] championship because it is fairer and more correct after the many investments and sacrifices of our clubs."

-- The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has confirmed to the Süddeutsche Zeitung that the international friendly between Spain and Germany, which was scheduled to take place in Madrid on 26 March, has been cancelled. Earlier this week, Germany's planned friendly against Italy in Nuremberg on 31 March also fell victim to the coronavirus.

-- Olympics to go ahead as planned, says Japan

The Tokyo Olympic Games will go ahead as planned, according to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. There have been over 1,500 cases of the coronavirus and 28 deaths in the country, but Abe is certain that the Games, scheduled to begin on July 24, will happen.

"We will overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem, as planned," Abe said.

However, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) — not the Japanese government — will have the final say on whether Tokyo 2020 takes place.

-- The international showjumping and dressage tournament in Dortmund was called off on Sunday after an order by city authorities. The event in the Westfallenhallen had begun on Thursday despite the coronavirus outbreak and was due to finish later on Sunday.

-- Wayne Rooney has criticized England's football authorities over how long they took to suspend matches in the country amid the coronavirus outbreak.

"Why did we wait until Friday? Why did it take Mikel Arteta to get ill for the game in England to do the right thing?" the former England and Manchester United captain wrote in his debut column for British newspaper the Sunday Times.

"For players, staff and their families it has been a worrying week — one in which you felt a lack of leadership from the government and from the FA and Premier League.

"After the emergency meeting, at last the right decision was made. Until then it almost felt like footballers in England were being treated like guinea pigs. If people's lives are at risk, that has to come first."

-- Germany's international friendly against Italy, scheduled for March 31, has unsurprisingly been canceled. The game was due to take place in Nuremberg but the city's council said it would refuse to host the game.

Germany are also due to play Spain, another country badly affected by the virus, in Madrid on March 26. There has been no official announcement but everything points towards that game being called off too. Confirmation when it comes.

March 14

-- There is football! Matchday 10 of the Liga MX in Mexico, the country's top flight, as well as the second division and the women's top flight will play football behind closed doors on Matchday 10. This came after a statement was released by the league itself. As of today, Mexico currently has 15 confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

-- According to Italian sports daily "La Gazzetta dello Sport" Serie A side Sampdoria, who already have five players infected with the coronavirus, have been hit by two more cases. The Genoa-based club said they would not comment on more cases.

-- Another day, another case of coronavirus in German football. Second-division side Holstein Kiel have confirmed that their central defender Stefan Thesker has tested positive for the virus.

-- Italy's players' association has released a statement saying it is "saddened and outraged" that clubs are still calling on players to arrive for training sessions.

The statement explained that some clubs were bringing in players to train in small groups or for daily temperature checks. With Italy the worse European country to be hit by the virus, the capital in lockdown and all sport suspended through April 3, this move is hugely controversial.

The PA added in their statement that forcing players to leave their home is "a shamefully irresponsible act."

-- The latest players to test positive for COVID-19 are both from Italy, Europe's worst affected region. Fiorentina players Patrick Cutrone and German Pezzella plus club physiotherapist Stefano Dainelli have all tested positive.

-- The Premier League are set to meet on Thursday, March 19, to make a decision on the course of action for the season. At this stage, the options seem to be to call it early, void the season and start again in August, or try to play out the remaining nine matchdays.

March 13

-- Paderborn defender Luca Kilian has tested positive for COVID-19. He is the first player in the Bundesliga infected with coronavirus.

-- The German Football League (DFL) has suspended the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 seasons with immediate effect, dropping a plan to play this weekend in empty stadiums. The league board cited an increasing number of suspected coronavirus cases affecting clubs in the top two tiers as the reason behind the decision. 

Read more: DFL suspends the seasons in Germany's top two tiers

-- Good news! Paderborn head coach Steffen Baumgart's coronavirus test has come back negative. However, the Bundesliga club have announced that they are still waiting on the results of tests involving some of their squad members. Therefore, tonight's game against Düsseldorf is still hanging in the balance.

-- Despite announcing on March 4 that everything would go ahead as planned, a decision has been made to postpone the 2020 Masters tournament. Fred Riley, Chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, said on Friday: "Considering the latest information and expert analysis, we have decided at this time to postpone the Masters Tournament, the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals."

-- Former Denmark and Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel is one of a number of famous faces taking the World Health Organisations 'Safe Hands Challenge'. 

-- Bundesliga side Paderborn have confirmed that head coach Steffen Baumgart has been tested for the coronavirus after presenting symptoms earlier this week. Results are expected this afternoon and could have an effect on whether tonight's game against Düsseldorf goes ahead as planned.

-- Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago, appears not best pleased with the decision made by the DFL earlier today to go ahead with Bundesliga Matchday 26 before discussing a proposal to suspend the season. 

-- Formula One races in Bahrain and Vietnam have been postponed in light of the coronavirus, organizers have said. The decision follows the cancellation of Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.

-- Given the increasing number of self-isolation cases that have impacted a number of professional football clubs in England, the governing bodies have said "there is no alternative" but to suspend the season with immediate effect. On Friday afternoon a joint-statement was released that promised "further updates" and "constant review".

"The FA, Premier League, EFL and FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have collectively agreed to postpone the professional game in England until Friday 3 April at the earliest. This action, which will be kept under constant review, has been taken due to the increasing numbers of clubs taking steps to isolate their players and staff because of the Covid-19 virus. It will also apply to all England team fixtures at every level and all FA competitions including the Emirates FA Cup and the Women’s FA Cup, along with academy and youth-team matches."

-- UEFA have officially postponed all upcoming UEFA club competitions, releasing the following statement.

"In the light of developments due to the spread of COVID-19 in Europe and related decisions made by different governments, all UEFA club competitions matches scheduled next week are postponed. The Champions League and Europa League quarter final draws have also been postponed."

-- The DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga have released a statement regarding the league's plans to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

"The DFL Executive Committee will propose that the games of both Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 be suspended from next Tuesday up to and including 2 April [the next international break] at a general meeting next Monday. The goal is still to finish the season by the summer - from a sporting point of view, but especially because an early end to the season could have consequences that could threaten the existence of some clubs."

As things stands, Matchday 26's nine fixtures will go ahead as planned behind closed doors. 

-- There are reports that Werder Bremen's game against Bayer Leverkusen on Monday could be called off completely. Local authorities are anticipating crowds of more than 1,000 fans outside the stadium even if the game is played behind closed doors, which is the cause for concern.

-- The Ligue de Football Professionnel have voted to suspend Ligue 1 & Ligue 2 action until further notice owing to COVID-19.

-- The Board of Control for Cricket in India have postponed the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) until April 15 amidst Coronavirus outbreak threat. 

-- Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi has tested positive for the coronavirus as Chelsea become the latest to enter self-quarantine. "Callum displayed symptoms similar to a mild cold on Monday morning and has not been at the training ground since then as a precaution," said a statement from the London based club. The 19-year-old took to Twitter with people waking up to the news in London on Friday morning. 

-- Formula 1 has canceled the Australian Grand Prix over coronavirus fears. The race, scheduled for Sunday, was the first on the 2020 season calendar.

March 12

-- London-based side Arsenal have confirmed that their manager, Mikel Arteta, has tested positive for COVID-19. Team personnel that came in close contact with Arteta will now self-isolate, including the first-team squad and coaching staff, the club said. 

-- Arsenal's announcement comes after the Premier League confirmed that the matches over the coming weekend would go ahead as scheduled — with spectators in the stadiums. Instead, England's top league will hold an emergency club meeting on Friday, March 13 to discuss the situation.

-- FIFA has delayed South American World Cup qualifiers, due to take place on March 26-31, due to the coronavirus. The decision follows a request from CONMEBOL, South America's football confederation, to move the matches to a later date.

-- CONMEBOL announced that next week's group stage games of the Copa Libertadores, South America's version of Europe's Champions League, have been postponed. 

-- The Basketball Bundesliga (BBL), Germany's top Basketball league, has suspended its season indefinitely, the BBL said on its website. Clubs will meet after 14 days to reassess the situation. Germany's women's basketball league has canceled the rest of its season.

-- The NCAA, the body that governs college sports in the United States, has canceled all winter and spring championships. This includes the men's and women's March Madness basketball tournament, two of the biggest events on the college sports calendar. 

-- Major League Baseball, the top baseball league in the US, is delaying the start of the season by two weeks. The season was due to start on March 26. The remainder of the league's preseason schedule has also been canceled.

-- The National Hockey League, North America's biggest ice hockey competition, has announced it is pausing its season. It said it would resume play "as soon as appropriate." The developmental American Hockey League and Canadian Hockey League said they would follow suit.

-- Several leading fan groups in Germany have called on the Bundesliga to postpone matches rather than play them behind closed doors.

-- Schalke, whose match against Borussia Dortmund is to be played behind closed doors, encouraged their fans not to travel to Dortmund. 

"Due to current events, the team, coaching staff and all responsible persons of Schalke are pleading (to fans) not to go to Dortmund for the #Revierderby on Saturday," the club said in a tweet.

This plea comes after supporters of Borussia Mönchengladbach gathered outside of Borussia-Park for their side's 2-1 win over Cologne on Wednesday.

-- The Dutch football association (KNVB) has canceled all football events, both professional and amateur, until March 31, the KNVB said on its website.

-- UEFA has announced that both of next Tuesday's Champions League matches — Manchester City vs. Real Madrid and Juventus vs. Olympique Lyon — have been postponed.

Real Madrid players are currently under quarantine after a basketball player tested positive for the virus. Juventus players are also under quarantine after Daniele Rugani was also diagnosed with the virus.

-- Major League Soccer has become the latest governing body to suspend the current season following the coronavirus pandemic. The American soccer league, which began its new season just two weeks ago, has called off play for the next month.

-- ATP have announced that there will be a six-week suspension of the men's tennis tour. The WTA are yet to make an announcement on the women's tour, but are expected to follow suit. However, the WTA have confirmed the cancellation of the upcoming Miami Open.

-- Second division side Hannover 96 have announced that their entire team have been put in "homebound quarantine" for 14 days after a second member of their first-team squad, Jannes Horn, tested positive for coronavirus. As a result, the club have requested their upcoming fixtures against Dynamo Dresden and VfL Osnabrück be postponed.

-- So far, we've not had any news to suggest the Bundesliga will be suspended, but all fixtures in the top division, including the headline Ruhr derby in Dortmund, will be played without fans. 

-- UEFA have made a statement, but one that falls some way short of addressing immediate concerns over public health. No blanket ban on games or an extension on games behind played closed doors. Instead, a meeting via video link, on March 17 among its 'stakeholders' to discuss what to do next. 

-- La Liga has announced that games in the top two flights of Spanish football - La Liga and La Liga 2 - have been postponed for the next two weeks at least, with immediate effect. Furthermore, Real Madrid are in quarantine after a player from the club's basketball team tested positive. Real Madrid's sports teams use the same training complex. 

-- Formula One team McLaren will not participate in the opening race of the season in Australia after a member of its team tested positive for the virus. However, the race is still expected to go ahead, despite four other suspected cases in the paddock.

-- It has been reported in the Times newspaper that the English Premier League are close to announcing that upcoming games will be played behind closed doors, but there has been no official confirmation on that from the Premier League. It has been confirmed that three Leicester City players are self-isolating having shown the symptoms of the virus.

-- In the United States, the NBA has suspended play due to the coronavirus pandemic after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for the virus. "The NBA will use this hiatus to determine the next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic,'' the league said in a statement.

-- The Swiss ice hockey league have taken the significant step of canceling the season with immediate effect. All decisions regarding champions, promotions and relegations will be decided in an extraordinary meeting scheduled for Friday.

"We have a responsibility to protect our players, club members, and their health, and that is now a top priority," Denis Vaucher, Director of the National League and the Swiss Leagues, said.

March 11

-- Another football player has tested positive for coronavirus - Juventus and Italian international Daniele Rugani. The club statement now reads that they are currently activating all the isolation procedures required by law, including those who have had contact with him.

-- The NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments will now also be played without fans as the US tries to do its best to contain the spread of the virus. The games will still take place, so as to allow fans the chance to watch the game, but the atmosphere of the tournament will of course now be different. March Madness, as the tournament is known, now takes on a very different meaning.

-- Also in the US, the Seattle Sounders in the MLS have postponed their next game after consultation with their governor. "Nothing is more important than public safety and the wellbeing of our fans."

-- The Golden State Warriors have announced their NBA game vs. the Nets at their home stadium will be played without fans. They have also stated that all events at the Chase Center through March 21 will be canceled or postponed. They are the first NBA team to announce a game without fans.

-- Second-division side Hannover 96's Timo Hübers has tested positive for coronavirus. The 23-year-old defender is the first professional player in Germany known to have caught the virus. 

-- Eintracht Frankfurt's Europa League home game against Basel on Thursday evening will take place with fans in attendance. However, Sunday's Bundesliga match between the Eagles and Borussia Mönchengladbach will be played behind closed doors. According to the authorities in Frankfurt, the reason behind the decision is the "low" number of coronavirus cases present in the cities of Frankfurt and Basel whereas the Mönchengladbach area is one of Germany’s epicenters of the coronavirus outbreak.

"Our decision is based on the advice given to us by the experts," said the city of Frankfurt’s health office.

-- The game between Union Berlin and Bayern Munich on Saturday will be held behind closed doors​​​​, the authorities in Berlin-Köpenick have said.

March 10

-- Although there won't be fans inside the stadium for Borussia Dortmund's second leg against PSG tomorrow, it looks like there might be fans allowed outside.

-- The German Ice Hockey League (DEL) has ended its season early in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus, leaving the 2020 season without a champion. This came hours after the Austrian league made a similar announcement.

-- Another Bundesliga game has been put behind closed doors to prevent the spread of the virus. Hoffenheim have just announced their home game against Hertha Berlin will now be played without fans.

Union Berlin on the other hand, have stated that after an extensive examination they have decided "not to issue an order preventing spectators from attending" the home game against Bayern Munich.

-- Germany vs Italy in Nuremberg on March 31 will be played without fans, the DFB have announced. The game could yet be canceled depending on how long Italy's country-wide lockdown remains in force. Their game against Spain in Madrid is still expected to go ahead as planned, but no decision in regards to coronavirus has been made.

-- Saturday's Ruhr Derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke, arguably the biggest derby in Germany, will be played behind closed doors for the first time, Dortmund officials have confirmed. The 80,000-capacity Signal Iduna Park will be empty, but for club and match officials and selected media outlets. The city of Dortmund has said that, as things stand, Dortmund's match against Bayern Munich on April 4th is also expected to take place with no spectators. There is growing speculation that all Bundesliga games will be played behind closed doors this weekend, but we still await an official announcement.

-- It's also been confirmed that Bayern Munich's Champions League game against Chelsea on March 18 will also be played without spectators. That's one of several upcoming Champions League games across Europe that will close its doors to fans, with Spanish league, La Liga, announcing that all games will be played without fans until at least March 22, covering the next two rounds of top-tier fixtures in the country.

-- Wednesday's Bundesliga game between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Cologne is to be played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak. The city of Mönchengladbach announced the move in a statement issued on Tuesday. The local derby, postponed from February because of a storm, will be the first top-flight German football game to be played behind closed doors.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn had previously recommended that events with more than 1,000 people be called off. The western state of North Rhine-Westphalia has been Germany's hardest hit by the outbreak.

March 9

-- Late on Monday  Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that the country's top-flight Serie A football league will be suspended because of the coronavirus crisis.

"There is no reason why matches and sporting events should continue and I am thinking of the football championship," Conte told a press conference in Rome.

Italy's Olympic Committee (CONI) had recommended earlier in the day that all sporting events in the country be suspended until April 3 to help contain the outbreak. The final Serie A game before Conte's announcement saw Sassuolo beat Brescia 3-0 behind closed doors in Reggio Emilia on Monday.

--The presidency of the DFL, which operates the Bundesliga, met on Monday to discuss the rapidly developing outbreak of the coronavirus in Germany and its impact on the league.

In a statement released following the meeting, the DFL said that unless local authorities order otherwise, all nine Bundesliga games on Matchday 26 are to go ahead as planned. The DFL reiterated an earlier statement in which it pointed to the need to get the season played in its entirety by the summer. It also said that it could hold matches with a limited number of spectators, if so ordered by local authorities, and it said it would comply with whatever instructions are issued by local authorities. The DFL ruled out canceling single games, but said it was open to delaying entire matchdays between now and the end of May if necessary. In such cases, it said the DFL would do so in consultation with the German FA (DFB) and the European governing body, UEFA.

Monday's meeting came in light of a recommendation from German Health Minister Jens Spahn, who has called for all events of over 1,000 people to be canceled. 

-- The police in the canton of Basel have announced that the Europa League match between FC Basel and Eintracht Frankfurt will not be played in March 19 as planned due to the coronavirus. It was not immediately known when and where the match could be held. The first leg of their round-of-16 tie is to be played in Frankfurt on Thursday. 

-- The Paris police authority has announced that the second leg of the Champions League round of 16 fixture between Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund is to be played behind closed doors due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. The police said in a statement that the move was to conform with measures adopted by the government to cope with the spread of the virus. The health minister said that France, which has more than 1,100 confirmed cases and has had 19 deaths, has banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people to try and slow the spread of COVID-19. Dortmund have a 2-1 advantage into the second leg.

-- The Leipzig health office, meanwhile, has confirmed that Tuesday's Champions League match between RB Leipzig and Tottenham Hotspur will go ahead as planned.

--  French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu has confirmed that France's final Six Nations rugby international game against Ireland has been postponed. Maracineanu did not specify the new date for the game. French media had earlier reported on Monday that all games on the final day of rugby's Six Nations Championship on Saturday had been postponed amid fears over the coronavirus outbreak. The move is in keeping with France's ban on all gatherings of more than 1,000 people. 

-- Japanese officials have postponed the start of the 12-team professional baseball league season due to the spread of the coronavirus. The season was to open on March 20. The league had been playing its preseason games in empty stadiums due to the virus.

"I personally believe that we have no choice but to postpone at this stage," the league's commissioner, Atsushi Saito, said.

Meanwhile, the head of the soccer J-League said it planned to extend its suspension of play, which is already in effect until March 18.

"At this moment I think it's very difficult to resume the matches,'' J-League chairman Mitsuru Murai said.

-- Basketball superstar LeBron James has said he won't play if his Los Angeles Lakers are forced to hold games behind closed doors due to the outbreak. The National Basketball Association has reportedly told teams to look into strategies on how to play without fans in the arena amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

"If I show up to the arena and there ain't no fans in the crowd, then I ain't playing. This ain't Europe," James said.

-- Organizers of the 2020 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California, have announced the tournament "will not take place at this time due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus and the safety of the participants and attendees at the event."

The first ATP Masters 1000 and WTA Premier Mandatory event of the year had been slated to kick off on Wednesday.

"The health and safety of the local community, fans, players, volunteers, sponsors, employees, vendors, and everyone involved with the event is of paramount importance," said the tournament's director, Tommy Haas. "We are prepared to hold the tournament on another date and will explore options," he added.

The decision followed a confirmed coronavirus case in the Coachella Valley, which prompted the Riverside County Public Health Department to declare a public health emergency.

March 8

-- Despite the increased spread of the coronavirus, DFL CEO Christian Seifert is pushing for the German football season to end on schedule. "The coronavirus puts the whole of society, and therefore football too, in a difficult situation," Seifert said in a press release on Sunday. "Of course, the health of the population and therefore of all football fans is our top priority. The aim must be to find the appropriate path between justified precaution and excessive caution in different areas of life." 

-- German Health Minister Jens Spahn has called for more large public events to be canceled to help control the spread of the virus. Authorities have been criticized for allowing large sporting events such as the Bundesliga to continue while other countries have already halted public matches.

"In light of the dynamic developments of the last couple of days, things need to change quickly," Spahn told dpa. The biggest upcoming sports event this week is set to take place in Leipzig for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 when Tottenham come to visit. The club have tweeted that no decision has been made yet.

March 7

--The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has called off the 2020 Women's Ice Hockey Championship, which was to be hosted by Nova Scotia next month. 

“It is with great regret that we must take this action," IIHF President René Fasel said. "It was not an easy decision to make, as we were greatly looking forward to hosting this tournament in Canada. Nevertheless, the decision has been made due to safety concerns for the well-being of players, officials, and spectators."

An IIHF statement said the cancelation of the women's tournament had no bearing on planning for the men's tournament,to be hosted by Switzerland in May.

March 6

-- The head virologist at Berlin's Charité, the oldest hospital in Germany's capital, has called for all Bundesliga matches in the Rheinland region to be postponed this weekend in light of a Coronavirus outbreak in Heinsberg near Mönchengladbach. "Full stadiums with 10s of thousands of fans - especially in areas like the Rheinland which have been strongly affected by the coronavirus - would have be stopped from a medical point of view," said Christian Drosten, Director at the Institute for Virology at the Charité. 

Borussia Mönchengladbach are due to face Borussia Dortmund in a clash that could prove decisive in the Bundesliga title race. Gladbach's stadium is less than 10 kilometers away from the Heinsberg area and, as a result, the club have fans from the Heinsberg area not to attend, promising future recompensation of match tickets. Authorities have decided to let the game go ahead as planned. 

March 5

-- Italy has ordered all major sporting events to be played behind closed doors for a month, in a bid to curb the Coronavirus outbreak in the country. The governmental order will be in place until April 3 at the earliest. Ten Serie A matches have already been postponed as a result of the virus, with two Italian Cup semifinals also being affected.

-- The Six Nations rugby game between Italy and England, which was set to take place in Rome next week, has been postponed due to the Coronavirus, reports in the UK suggest.

March 4

-- Thursday's second leg of Napoli's Italian Cup semifinal against Inter Milan has been postponed as the coronavirus epidemic continues to spread throughout the country. A Serie A statement said that the move came in accordance with an order from the prefect of Naples calling for the game to be delayed. Napoli lead the semifinal 1-0. A new date for the second leg has not yet been announced.

-- The health minister of Germany's North Rhine-Westphalia state has said he does not believe Saturday's Bundesliga match between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund should be postponed, despite a coronavirus outbreak in the region. Karl-Josef Laumann said this assumption was based on the fact that the local health authorities saw no reason for putting off the match. However, Gladbach have asked those from the Heinsberg to region, which has been the hardest hit in the state, to voluntarily skip the game - in return for a full refund.

-- Cycling teams confined to a luxury Abu Dhabi hotel have been instructed by the country's health authorities to remain in quarantine until March 14 due to coronavirus concerns. Emirati authorities ordered the lockdown of the Crowne Plaza in Yas Island and the nearby W hotel after two Italian participants involved in last week's UAE Tour were suspected of contracting coronavirus.

Members of the French teams Cofidis and Groupama-FDJ as well as Russia's Gazprom have been confined to the fourth floor of the Crowne Plaza since last Thursday.

-- Clemens Fuest, the leader of IFO Institute for economic research, has warned of a "historic year for sports, in a bad sense," in light of the Coronavirus.

March 3

-- The German FA (DFB) has said it will follow the advice of the country's health authorities on how to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. 

"I can give you a simple answer as we have don't have any medical expertise," DFB Vice President Rainer Koch said after a reporter asked him whether Germany might follow Switzerland in canceling professional matches.

"We are in close consultation with the relevant authorities and the health offices. It's for them to make the decisions and we will follow their advice, and implement their decisions," he said. 

-- International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has reiterated his assertion that this summer's Tokyo Olympics will be a success despite the coronavirus outbreak. 

"We are all healthy and looking forward to the meeting," a smiling Bach told reporters as he arrived at IOC headquarters in Lausanne for a meeting of the organization's executive board.

"We are preparing for a successful Olympic Games Tokyo 2020," he said. 

Both Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizers and the IOC have repeatedly stressed that the Games, slated to open on July 24, will go ahead as planned.

Earlier on Tuesday, though, Japan's Olympics minister, Seiko Hashimoto appeared to raise the possibility of delaying the start of the Games.Hashimoto said that Tokyo's contract with the IOC "could be interpreted as allowing a postponement" as long at the Games are held in the 2020 calendar year. However, she added that the Japanese government and Tokyo remained committed to the July 24 opening date.

There have been 1,000 confirmed coronavirus infections in Japan, with 12 fatalities. 

--UEFA announced on Tuesday that it has set up a working group with the European Leagues association to handle any fixture congestion be caused by coronavirus postponements.

The president of the Swiss FA, Dominique Blanc, warned of serious consequences for the sport.

"Due to the coronavirus we are in a situation that could shake, for a part of us, professional football to its foundations," he said in an address to the UEFA Congress being held in Amsterdam.

The Swiss soccer league (SFL) has been put on hold until at least March 23 after the clubs rejected the possibility of playing matches behind closed doors.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who also addressed the conference,  said it was "important to work with authorities but not to panic."

March 2

--  UEFA has said decisions over whether to cancel matches, including playoffs for the upcoming Euro 2020, due to the coronavirus, will be made by governments and health authorities.

UEFA executives met in Amsterdam on Monday but spent only a few minutes discussing the spread of the flu-like disease, which has seen sporting events canceled around the world.

It has played havoc with domestic soccer in Italy where Sunday's clash between Juventus and Inter Milan was among six weekend games postponed. Last week, Inter played Bulgarian club Ludogorets in the Europa League behind closed doors at their San Siro stadium.

"We're in touch with the authorities, we're in the hands of the local authorities, and we'll deal with whatever they tell us," a UEFA spokesman said.

-- RB Leipzig have apologized to a Japanese group who were ejected from a Bundesliga game on Sunday due to fears
about the coronavirus. Fans posted on Twitter on Monday about their experience of being asked to leave around 10 minutes into the match with Bayer Leverkusen. Leipzig on Monday confirmed the incident, saying stewards had made a mistake in attempting to follow guidelines from the Robert Koch Institute for dealing with groups from potentially high-risk areas for the virus. The club said they were attempting to contact the group of fans affected to invite them to another game.

March 1

-- Many rugby, hockey, golf and tennis events in Singapore, Thailand or China have been postponed or will not be played.

-- The Chinese Grand Prix, scheduled for April 19, has been postponed by the sport's governing body FIA and Formula One. No new date has yet to emerge.

-- South Korea's pro soccer league has postponed the start of its new season, while the Chinese FA said domestic games at all levels would also be postponed. 

-- The World Athletics Indoor Championships, due to be held between March 13 and 15 in Nanjing, have been postponed until next year.

-- Five Serie A games were postponed on Saturday, including league leaders Juventus' home game against Inter Milan in Turin, in an attempt to contain the spread of a virus outbreak. The games were originally due to be played behind closed doors, but the decision to call them off was taken by the league as part of an urgent attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus.

-- Bayern Munich have announced that as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, their players have been instructed not to sign autographs or pose for selfies with fans. This is a temporary measure. The club said they were in regular contact with the City of Munich's health department and the Robert Koch Institute, the German federal government agency responsible for disease control and prevention. 

-- Denmark's Michael Morkov has been instructed not to leave his Berlin hotel room while he awaits a test for the coronavirus after traveling there for the track cycling world championships from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The 34-year-old left for the German capital on Thursday, before the UAE Tour was canceled due to two Italian participants showing symptoms of the virus. All other riders and staff have since been confined to the Tour hotel.

Morkov had been scheduled to compete in Berlin this weekend. The UAE Tour was scrapped after five stages and ahead of its scheduled conclusion on Sunday.

-- The Swiss Football League has announced that it has canceled all first and second-division games for the coming weekend due to the coronavirus outbreak. This followed a government order that all events with more than 1,000 participants be put off until March 15 at the earliest.

-- Bundesliga club RB Leipzig have instructed players and staff to avoid shaking hands, which is the customary greeting in Germany. Head coach Julian Nagelsmann told a press conference ahead of Leipzig's match against Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday that it was part of the club's policy meant to prevent the spread of viruses.

"There is a ban on shaking hands; we greet each other with elbows," he said. Leipzig have also imposed a travel stop on all scouts, staff and players apart from match travel.

-- English Premier League club Newcastle United have also introduced a handshake ban to protect against the spread of the coronavirus.

"There's a ritual here that everybody shakes hands with everybody as soon as we see each other every morning -- we've stopped that on the advice of the doctor," Newcastle manager Steve Bruce said at a press conference ahead of their match against Burnley on Saturday.

-- German professional sports leagues have been monitoring the situation regarding the coronavirus outbreak and are in contact with the relevant authorities. 

-- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said it is "fully committed" to holding the 2020 Games in Tokyo as planned despite the widening new coronavirus outbreak.     

IOC President Thomas Bach told Japanese media in a conference call late on Thursday that the IOC "is fully committed to a successful Olympic Games in Tokyo starting July 24."

This came as the viral outbreak across Japan and dozens of other countries has fueled concerns about the Summer Games, with a swathe of other sports events, mainly in Asia, postponed or canceled.

The Ireland-Italy Six Nations match on March 7 in Dublin was postponed on Wednesday following an outbreak of the virus in northern Italy.

Several Serie A matches in northern Italy are to be played behind closed doors due to the outbreak.

In the Europa League, Inter Milan beat Ludogorets 2-1 (4-1) at an empty San Siro, with the game played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak in the region.