All football matches in mainland China will be postponed because of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, according to the country’s governing football body.
The Super League, the country’s premier division, was due to commence February 22 and run to October 31. A new start date has not yet been announced.
This year’s Chinese FA Super Cup game, a match between China FA Cup winner Shanghai Shenhua and Chinese Super League champion Guangzhou Evergrande, had been scheduled for February 15.
In a statement on its website, the Chinese Football Association said postponing the “2020 season national football competitions at all levels” was taken to help with the “prevention and control of the pneumonia epidemic of the new coronavirus infection, and to protect the health of the majority of fans, media, players, coaches, game officials, clubs and district staff”.
“The Chinese Football Association will continue to maintain close communication with national authorities, to determine the timing of each event in this season based on the actual development of the epidemic situation at various locales,” it added.
“It will make reasonable adjustments to the system, schedule, and scale of some events when necessary.”
The virus has taken the lives of at least 170 people and health authorities in China have said more than 7,700 cases have been confirmed in mainland China, while nearly 60 million people have been under partial or full lockdowns in Chinese cities for a week.
There is a risk sports events will be disrupted further into the calendar year if the virus continues to spread.
In a statement, Formula One’s governing body the FIA said it was “monitoring” the situation. The Shanghai Grand Prix is set to take place April 17-19.
A number of sporting events in China have already been postponed, canceled or under threat.
The postponement of China’s Super League marks the latest disruption in the sporting world caused by the coronavirus:
- China’s women’s national football team is being held in quarantine at their Brisbane hotel until February 5. The Olympics qualifying matches were moved to Sydney, Australia, from China, and the team had been due to play Thailand on February 3.
- The 2020 World Athletics Indoor Championships, due to be held from March 13-15 in Nanjing, has been postponed until next year on advice given by the World Health Organization to governing body World Athletics.
- The start of the new Chinese Basketball Association League – scheduled for February 1 – has been postponed.
- The Asian Athletics Association canceled the Asian Indoor Track and Field Championship to ensure “the safety of our athletes.” The championships had originally been scheduled to be held in Hangzhou from February 12 to 13.
- The 14th Chinese National Winter Games’ official opening ceremony was scheduled for February 16. However, the Games have now been postponed.
- The Hong Kong Marathon is an umbrella event for three races –10 kilometers, half and full marathon. Some 74,000 people had signed up to compete in the February 8 and 9 races but they have now been canceled.
- The 2020 League of Legends Spring tournament – scheduled to begin on February 5 – and the 2020 Legends Development League have both been postponed.
- Other Olympic sport qualifiers affected include the Asian and Oceanic boxing event, which was moved from Wuhan to Jordan, and women’s basketball, which has had its qualifying competition switched from Fuhan to Serbia.
- The first Winter X-Games to be held in China have been postponed. The event was scheduled to take place from February 21-23 in Chongli.
- The International Ski Federation has confirmed that the downhill and super-G men’s alpine skiing World Cup races, which were due to take place on February 15 and 16, have been canceled.