As the world scrambles to deal with the deadly Coronavirus, the sports world similarly scrambles to move host locations and juggle dates to keep events from being cancelled altogether.
The deadly Chinese-born virus, which, as of this writing, has infected over 80,000 worldwide and killed 2,700, has already made a great impact on sports.
Sports World Shaken
Most recently, Italy, which has the highest infection rate outside of Asia, was forced to have five league soccer matches played to empty stadiums as fans were barred from attending due to infection fears. The potential dangers presented by the virus have also caused events from various sports– notably, soccer, tennis, golf, motorsport, basketball, and hockey– to be moved to locations as far away from patches of outbreaks as possible. There is also talk that the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan could be canceled entirely.
Boxing First Hit
Boxing was actually the first sport affected by the Coronavirus as a scheduled February 1 junior welterweight title fight between WBC/WBO world champ Jose Ramirez and former titlist Viktor Postol in Haikou, China had to be canceled.
“They are getting cancellations left and right,” promoter Bob Arum said of their Chinese hosts. “So even if we went over there and did the fight we’d be playing to an empty house because nobody is traveling to China with this virus situation…First time I remember canceling a fight for a reason like this…People have to fly there from the rest of China…and a lot of those flights are being canceled. It’s a serious situation.”
ESPN, which was set to air the title fight, also expressed concerns about sending their TV crew to China during this crisis. Ramirez-Postol would eventually be rescheduled for May 9 in Ramirez’s hometown of Fresno, California.
Also in Boxing…
Also in boxing, The International Olympic Committee has announced that the boxing qualifiers for Asia and Oceania will be moved to Jordan, far away from both Asia and Oceania. The amateur boxing teams of Ireland and New Zealand also moved their training camps, when both teams were advised to leave their camps in Italy.
Recently, a February 28 Matchroom Boxing fight card in Milan, Italy was canceled. There is also talk of suspending upcoming boxing cards in Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, and The Philippines.
As the Coronavirus spreads and takes more lives, a truly international sport like boxing will take some heavy hits. Right now, precaution rules as promoters and event organizers move their cards to “safer” locations or outright cancel fights. But it only stands to reason that, soon or later, there will be no place to run or hide from the danger.
The boxing world, along with the rest of the world, mobilizes and awaits modern science’s counter punch to this deadly virus.
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