The 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic has caused the most significant disruption to the worldwide sporting calendar since World War II. Across the world and to varying degrees, sports events have been cancelled or postponed.
The 2020 Summer Olympics were scheduled to take place in Tokyo starting at the end of July. Due to the upcoming Olympic games, the country’s government had taken extra precautions to help minimize the outbreak’s worst impact. However, qualifying events were being canceled or postponed almost daily. The traditional Olympic flame lighting ceremony in Olympia, Greece, to mark the start of the 2020 Summer Olympics torch relay was held on 12 March without spectators. On 24 March, it was announced that the Summer Olympics would be postponed to 2021, still to be held in Tokyo. Six days later, the Olympics made a reschedule date to twelve months from the original scheduled dates of 24 July to 9 August 2020, to 23 July to 8 August 2021.
On 11 March 2020, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) — the main U.S. sanctioning body for college athletics — initially announced that its winter-semester championships and tournaments, including its popular men’s basketball tournament (widely known as “March Madness”), would be conducted with “only essential staff and limited family attendance”. However, the following day, the NCAA announced that all remaining championship events for the 2019–20 academic year would be cancelled entirely. This marked the first cancellation in the 81-year history of the NCAA basketball tournament. On 16 March 2020, British Universities and Colleges Sport, the UK organisation for university sport, announced that all fixtures from 17 March to 1 April would not take place. Some individual events, like the orienteering and windsurfing championships were cancelled entirely, while others were postponed indefinitely.
In the Philippines, NCAA Season 95 and UAAP Season 82 were both indefinitely suspended. NCAA Season 95 was terminated on 19 March after the then community quarantine in Luzon was upgraded to an “enhanced community quarantine”, in effect a lockdown. UAAP Season 82 was canceled on 7 April, after the enhanced community quarantine was extended to 30 April.
On 13 March 2020, FIFA announced that clubs did not have to release players to their national teams during the international windows of March and April 2020, while players also had the option to decline a call-up without any consequences. FIFA also recommended that all international matches during these windows be postponed, though the final decision was left to the competition organisers or member associations for friendly matches.
By 20 April, 2020 Ýokary Liga, 2020 Tajikistan Higher League, Belarusian Premier League and Liga Primera de Nicaragua were the only four top flight national football leagues not suspended. On 3 April 2020, FIFA announced that the 2020 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, scheduled to be held in Panama and Costa Rica in August, and the 2020 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, scheduled to be held in India in November, would be postponed and rescheduled. On 17 March 2020, CAF announced that the 2020 African Nations Championship had been postponed to a later date due to the pandemic.
In China, the 2020 Chinese Super League was postponed as a result of the virus. In Hong Kong, the 2020 Lunar New Year Cup was cancelled on 23 January. Other leagues in Asia were affected, including South Korea’s K League 1 and Japan’s J1 League. The AFC Champions League and AFC Cup was also impacted, a number of group stage and play-off matches being postponed. FIFA and AFC announced that 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification matches due to take place in March and June 2020 were postponed to later dates due to the pandemic. In India, the remaining I-League matches were postponed and the Indian Super League final was played behind closed doors.
In Europe, various knockout matches in the Champions League and Europa League were played behind closed doors in February and March 2020. On 12 March 2020, UEFA announced that the elite qualification round of the men and women’s under-17 and under-19 youth international tournaments had been postponed.