Sports leagues around the world are moving swiftly to combat the rising threat of coronavirus

By Jason Duaine Hahn
March 13, 2020 10:45 AM
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As governments around the world act to slow the spread of coronavirus — also known as COVID-19 — sports leagues are taking unprecedented and necessary moves to protect players and fans by postponing and canceling events.

The epidemic has so far claimed the lives of more than 4,900 people and sickened 130,500 others as of Thursday morning, March 12, according to the New York Times.

As PEOPLE previously reported, initial cases of the respiratory illness can be traced back to Wuhan, China in late December. Wuhan is a major transportation hub with hundreds of flights leaving and landing from the city of 11 million each day, and the virus quickly spread worldwide, leading the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, the first since the Zika epidemic in 2016.

President Donald Trump announced restrictions on travel from Europe to the U.S. for 30 days, which begins Friday at midnight. So far, there have been 1,302 confirmed coronavirus cases and 38 deaths in the United States as of Thursday morning.

To help slow the transmission of the virus, many cities have begun to prohibit large gatherings — which directly affects sports franchises in these areas. Individual teams and leagues have now postponed or canceled games for the foreseeable future.

Ivy League basketball
The NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament has been affected by the spread of coronavirus
| Credit: Jim Rogash/Getty

Sporting events that have been canceled or postponed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic include:

So far, the NFL has not announced plans to delay its 2020-2021 season in response to the epidemic. The upcoming NFL Draft in Las Vegas is expected to go on without fans in attendance.