Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sports
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The COVID-19 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 in Tokyo were rescheduled to 2021. Spectators have no games to watch and players no games to play. Only a few countries and territories, such as Hong Kong, Turkmenistan, Belarus, and Nicaragua, have continued professional sporting matches as planned.
International multi-sport events
The 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics were scheduled to take place in Tokyo starting 24 July and 25 August respectively. Although the Japanese government had taken extra precautions to help minimize the outbreak's impact in the country, qualifying events were being canceled or postponed almost daily. According to Japanese public broadcaster NHK, Tokyo 2020 organizing-committee chief executive Toshiro Muto voiced concerns on 5 February, that COVID-19 might "throw cold water on the momentum toward the Games."
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 23 March, Canada, Australia, and Great Britain announced that they would withdraw from the Games unless they are postponed to 2021. On 24 March 2020, the IOC and Tokyo Organizing Committee announced that the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics would be "rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021", marking the first time in the history of the modern Olympics that an Olympiad has been postponed. The opening ceremonies of the Games were officially rescheduled to 23 July 2021. The cost of postponing the Olympics to 2021 was estimated to be US$5.8 billion, which included the cost of maintaining the unused venues.
The organizing committee published various planned safety protocols for athletes, spectators, and members of the press. It was recommended that athletes be vaccinated, but they were not required to do so. On 20 March 2021, citing international travel restrictions and the need to ensure the safety of athletes, it was announced that no spectators or guests from outside of Japan would be allowed to attend the Games. This included both ticketed spectators and the supporters of athletes. While there were initially plans to allow venues to operate at half capacity (to a maximum of 10,000 spectators), it was ultimately announced that nearly the entirety of the Games would be held behind closed doors.
Although the next Winter Olympics are not until 2022 (hosted by Beijing, China), the pandemic has already impacted qualifying in specific sports such as curling—where the World Curling Federation announced a proposal to have qualification be dependent on performance in the 2021 world championships (whose top teams will automatically qualify) and a final qualification tournament, as opposed to the previous plan of having qualification determined by both the 2020 and 2021 world championships. Qualification for the women's hockey tournament was to be determined by IIHF World Rankings after the 2020 Women's World Championship. As the tournament was cancelled, the existing rankings going into the tournament were used instead.
Arctic Winter Games
SEA Games/ASEAN Para Games
Summer World University Games
World Masters Games
The 2021 World Masters Games, original schedule held in Japan on 14 to 30 May, that indefinite postponed after 2022, the organisation announced on 28 October. On 12 January 2021, it was announced that 2021 Games were scheduled for 13–29 May 2022.
National multi-sport governing-body competitions
U Sports curtailed its men's and women's ice hockey championships on 12 March 2020. On 8 June, U Sports announced that it had cancelled all national championships for the fall semester of the 2020–21 academic year, including Canadian football (the first time the Vanier Cup was not contested since its inception), cross-country, field hockey, women's rugby, and soccer. On 15 October 2020, U Sports announced it would do the same thing for the winter 2021 portion of the 2020–21, once again cancelling all winter national championships as well. Atlantic University Sport, Canada West, and Ontario University Athletics followed suit, suspending all university athletics programs initially through to 31 December 2020, but was later extended through to 31 March 2021, as announced on 15 October 2020.
The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Republic of Ireland had a significant impact on the conduct of sports, affecting both competitive sports leagues and tournaments and recreational sports. The Gaelic games of football, hurling, camogie, and ladies' football saw all competitions suspended from 12 March 2020. The National Hurling League, National Football League, National Camogie League and Ladies' National Football League were suspended, with competitions not intended to resume until 29 March at the earliest. This proved to be an optimistic assumption.
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 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 canceled entirely, while others were postponed indefinitely.
On 6 March 2020, in the first round of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Tournament, a game played at Johns Hopkins University between Yeshiva University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute became the first U.S. sporting event to be played without fans in attendance, after a student at Yeshiva University tested positive for COVID-19.
On 11 March 2020, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) — the main U.S.A. sanctioning body for college athletics — initially announced that its winter-semester championships and tournaments, including its popular "March Madness" men's basketball tournament, would be conducted behind closed doors with "only essential staff and limited family attendance".
The following day, in respect of the suspension of the NBA season and other professional sports leagues, the NCAA announced that all remaining championship events for the 2019–20 academic year would be canceled entirely, resulting in the first cancellation in the 81-year history of the NCAA basketball tournament. This created a de facto mythical national championship situation. Other American multi-sports organizations—the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), and California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA)—also canceled their seasons. Additionally the Community College level sports governing bodies restored the season of eligibility to athletes who had already participated in the 2020 spring season.
On 12 May 2020, because the California State University system announced that in-person classes would remain suspended through the fall 2020 semester, the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA)—a 12-member NCAA Division II conference consisting entirely of CSU campuses[a]—announced that it would also suspend its fall athletics season.
The Patriot League, an NCAA Division I conference that competes in the second level of D1 Football, the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), initially announced on 22 June that while it would hold its fall sports seasons, its teams would not fly to any competitions, and overnight travel would only be allowed on a case-by-case basis. Another FCS conference, the Ivy League, announced on 8 July that it was canceling all fall sports, and that winter sports (whose seasons normally begin during the fall academic term) would not begin play until after the end of the fall term. It left open the possibility of shifting its fall sports, including football, to the spring. The Patriot League would later cancel its fall sports season entirely on 13 July, but gave the two federally operated service academies among its membership, Army and Navy, the option to play fall sports as they saw fit. While the academies are full members of the Patriot League, their football teams play outside the conference in the top-level Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
The days following the Ivy League's cancellation of fall sports saw two of the major "Power Five" conferences of FBS announce that if fall sports were played, only in-conference matchups would take place. The Big Ten Conference made this announcement on 9 July, with the Pac-12 Conference doing the same the next day. Both conferences later chose to hold abbreviated conference-only football seasons, with the Big Ten starting play on the weekend of 24 October and the Pac-12 on the weekend of 7 November.
In September, it was announced that 2020 Division I championships administered by NCAA in fall sports (cross country, field hockey, football soccer, women's volleyball and men's water polo) would be rescheduled to spring 2021, and conducted with a 25% reduction in championship participants. Matches played in fall or spring would count toward qualification. The Football Bowl Subdivision was not included as it is not an NCAA-administered championship.
In December, the NCAA announced that 2021 Division II championship events in winter and spring sports would also have a 25% overall reduction in participants (individual sports varied from 17 to 34% based on logistics) to mitigate costs of testing and health protocols, as well as lost income.
Programs located in the state of New Mexico and in Santa Clara County, California had to relocate practices and games because of legislative bans on any competitive sport requiring physical contact. At the University of New Mexico, the football team moved its first two home games to the sites of their opponents and the last two to Sam Boyd Stadium in Whitney, Nevada, in Clark County near Las Vegas; while the men's basketball team moved to Lubbock, Texas and played home games at Lubbock Christian University. New Mexico State moved its men's basketball program to Phoenix, Arizona and used Arizona Christian University as its home court. San Jose State University's football team played its regular-season finale and championship game at Sam Boyd, while the men's basketball team played home games at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz. The same venue hosted early-season home games of the Stanford University and Santa Clara University men's basketball teams.
The financial fallout from the pandemic was specifically cited by the following schools in their decisions to drop certain sports programs:
- Effective in 2020–21
- University of Akron – Men's cross country, men's golf, women's tennis
- University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) – Men's and women's tennis 
- Appalachian State University – Men's indoor track & field, men's soccer, men's tennis
- Boise State University – Baseball, women's swimming & diving[b]
- Central Michigan University – Men's indoor and outdoor track & field[c]
- Chicago State University – Baseball[d]
- University of Cincinnati – Men's soccer
- Dartmouth College – Men's and women's golf and men's and women's swimming & diving, as well as the non-NCAA sport of men's lightweight rowing.[e]
- East Carolina University – Men's and women's swimming & diving, men's and women's tennis
- Florida Institute of Technology – Football
- Furman University – Baseball, men's lacrosse
- University of Wisconsin–Green Bay (Green Bay) – Men's and women's tennis
- Hampton University – Men's and women's golf
- Lincoln University (Missouri) – Bowling[f]
- University of Northern Colorado – Men's and women's tennis
- Old Dominion University – Men's wrestling[g]
- St. Edward's University – Men's and women's golf, men's and women's tennis, men's soccer. Cheerleading, which had been a recognized varsity sport though not under NCAA governance, was downgraded to a club sport under the umbrella of the university's recreation department.
- Seattle Pacific University – Women's gymnastics
- Sonoma State University – Men's and women's tennis, women's water polo
- Southern Utah University – Men's and women's tennis
- Winthrop University – Men's and women's tennis
- Wright State University – Softball, men's and women's tennis
- Effective in 2021–22
- University of Alaska Anchorage – Women's gymnastics, men's ice hockey, skiing[h]
- Clemson University – Men's cross country, men's indoor and outdoor track & field
- California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) – Women's lacrosse, men's tennis, men's wrestling
- George Washington University – NCAA-sanctioned sports dropped were men's tennis, men's indoor track and field, and women's water polo. Non-NCAA varsity sports dropped were men's rowing,[e] coed sailing, and men's and women's squash.
- University of Iowa – Men's gymnastics, men's and women's swimming & diving, men's tennis
- La Salle University – Baseball, softball, men's swimming & diving, men's and women's tennis, women's volleyball, men's water polo
- Michigan State University – Men's and women's swimming & diving
- University of Minnesota – Men's gymnastics, men's tennis, men's indoor track & field
- San Diego State University – Women's rowing
- Stanford University – NCAA-sanctioned sports dropped were fencing,[i] field hockey,[j] men's volleyball, and wrestling. Non-NCAA varsity sports dropped were lightweight rowing, men's rowing,[e] coed and women's sailing, squash, and synchronized swimming.
- University of Connecticut (UConn) – Men's cross country, women's rowing,[e] men's swimming & diving, men's tennis
Additionally, the New York Institute of Technology suspended its entire athletic program for two seasons, after which it will reconsider the decision. Similarly, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff announced that it was "suspending" its men's and women's tennis teams for the 2020–21 school year, citing the pandemic, but did not officially eliminate the tennis program.
UAH initially dropped men's ice hockey alongside both of its tennis teams, but a successful fundraising drive by alumni and team supporters led the school to reinstate hockey a week later. Similarly, Bowling Green State University announced that it would drop its baseball team, but also had a successful fundraising effort that led to the team being reinstated. The University of Minnesota, which had announced plans to drop four men's sports effective in 2021–22, announced that one of these sports, namely outdoor track & field, would be spared discontinuation, pending a further review of the school's sports offerings in spring 2021. The most extensive rollback of plans to drop sports came at the College of William & Mary. In early September 2020, W&M announced it would drop seven sports effective in 2021–22—men's and women's gymnastics, men's and women's swimming & diving, men's indoor and outdoor track & field, and women's volleyball. The fallout from this move led the school's athletic director to resign a month after this announcement. W&M eventually reversed course completely, restoring the three women's sports on 19 October and announcing on 5 November that the four men's sports would continue to be sponsored through at least 2021–22.
MacMurray College, Notre Dame de Namur University, and Urbana University announced that they would wind down operations and close due to economic issues brought upon or exacerbated by the pandemic—effectively ending the entirety of their athletics programs.
In August 2020, officials at the University of California, Riverside, a Division I member, publicly announced that shutting down the school's entire athletic program was one possible option to address pandemic-related financial challenges. As of mid-October, no decision on the program's future had yet been reached.
The 2019–20 FIS Alpine Ski World Cup ended two weeks earlier after World Cup races in Sweden, Slovenia, and Italy scheduled for March were canceled. An earlier February World Cup race was moved from China to Austria.
The 2020–21 FIS Alpine Ski World Cup also saw a number of races in January rescheduled from Wengen to Kitzbühel to Flachau.
The opening three stages of the 2020 Archery World Cup were postponed. Other events postponed include the Pan American Archery Championships, which were scheduled to be held in Monterrey, Mexico, from 23 to 29 March, and the European Para-Archery Championships, which were scheduled to be held in Olbia, Italy, from 18 to 26 April.
On 15 July it was announced that the 2020 Archery World Cup would be cancelled.
The first three events of the 2020 Diamond League, scheduled to be held in Qatar in April, followed by two events in China in May, were postponed until later in the year. On 12 May, a revised schedule was issued, but no points will be awarded for the events.
The 2020 Boston Marathon, originally scheduled for 20 April, was postponed until 14 September before being canceled completely on 28 May. On 28 October, organisers announced that the 2021 Boston Marathon would not be held on Patriots Day (19 April) as usual, to be rescheduled to sometime in the fall. Organisers cited an ongoing ban on road races in Massachusetts.
The 2020 Grandma's Marathon, scheduled for 20 June, was canceled by the organizers more than 50 days before it was to begin. They announced on 31 March that the marathon, the half-marathon, and the 5K would all be canceled.
On 2 November 2020, organisers moved the 2021 Publix Atlanta Marathon (typically held inside Fulton County with a primary emphasis of Centennial Olympic Park) 50 km south to the 840 acre Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia (Henry County) where it was held on access roads and campgrounds, finishing inside the speedway oval.[k]
The Atlanta Track Club originally moved the Peachtree Road Race from 4 July to 26 November, but the race was cancelled on 19 August 2020. Organisers then moved the PNC Atlanta 10 Miler, typically held in Atlantic Station, to Michelin Raceway in Hall County, a motorsport closed circuit within a 100 km radius of Atlanta. The race was renamed the PNC Atlanta 10 Miler: Extreme Hills Edition and run exclusively on the road course, pit lane, and driving school courses.[k]
Australian rules football
At the conclusion of its first round of games (played from 19 to 22 March), the 2020 AFL season was suspended until 11 June, while the finals series of the 2020 AFL Women's season was cancelled after its semi-finals were played, with no premiership awarded. Both the AFL Women's semi-finals and the first round of the AFL season were played in empty stadiums. The 2020 Australian Football International Cup, scheduled to be held between 21 July–8 August on the Sunshine Coast, was at first postponed until 2021 and then cancelled altogether.
The annual Australian Football Hall of Fame induction event was instead held over four nights as a series of television shows with pre-recorded vision and interviews with the inductees. The AFL Women's best and fairest awards were also changed to be a television only event, with the players being live streamed from their homes.
At levels below the fully professional AFL, most leagues either cancelled their entire season or significantly delayed their start. Player payments were cut to zero in the South Australian National Football League.
The 2020 AFL season later resumed, however many games, particularly in the early rounds, were played without crowds. The league also reduced playing time by 20%, to four 16-minute quarters instead of 20-minute quarters. Other smaller changes have also been added due to the pandemic.
On 28 June, officials in the state of Queensland announced a travel ban to and from the state of Victoria. The AFL then relocated all games scheduled for Victoria to other states for that week and the following week. Then, on 15 July, the AFL announced that all teams based in Victoria would relocate to either Queensland or Western Australia for the rest of the season. This came due to Victoria ordering a six-week lockdown to deal with a surge in cases.
On 21 July, the AFL announced an accelerated schedule for Rounds 9 through 12, with games played daily from 29 July to 17 August. Two games were played on selected Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays during this period. In addition, matches were not played in New South Wales due to an increase in coronavirus cases in that state.
The remaining games of the 2020 season were played predominantly in Queensland and South Australia, as well as Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Crowd levels were capped, but by the conclusion of the season, crowds of over 20,000 were able to attend games. The 2020 Grand Final was held on 24 October, around a month later than usual, at the Gabba, in Brisbane, Queensland—the first time the Grand Final was played outside of Victoria.
In 2021, due to an outbreak of the virus in Victoria, all games in the state in Round 11 had no crowds, and all games were played outside of Victoria in Round 12. Additionally, Round 7 of the VFL and Round 13 of the VFLW were postponed, and in Round 8 of the VFL, only games between non-Victorian teams proceeded as scheduled. As the season wore on, it was becoming increasingly clear that the 2021 Grand Final would not be able to take place in front of a crowd. For the second year in a row, it was relocated, this time to Optus Stadium in Perth.
Originally, all scheduled Badminton World Federation tournaments were suspended until 12 April due to coronavirus concerns. The affected tournaments are Swiss Open, India Open, Orléans Masters, Malaysia Open, and Singapore Open. Previously the body had suspended the German Open and pushed the Lingshui China Masters from February to May 2020. The 2020 Thomas & Uber Cup was originally scheduled for 15–23 August, but on 29 April was postponed to 3–11 October after Denmark extended a ban on "larger gatherings" to 31 August. On 15 September, it was again postponed, and on 21 December, it was announced that the tournament would take place on 9–17 October 2021.
In the end, all tournaments through 11 October were suspended, and World Rankings were frozen from 17 March 2020 to 2 February 2021.
The qualifying round of the World Baseball Softball Confederation-sanctioned 2021 World Baseball Classic, scheduled in Tucson, Arizona, United States in March 2020 was postponed on 12 March 2020. The tournament itself has been rescheduled tentatively to 2023, depending on a new collective bargaining agreement between MLB and the players' union.
On 30 April 2020, Little League International announced that the 2020 Little League World Series and its associated regional qualifiers would be cancelled due to the pandemic. This was the first cancellation of the tournament since its first edition in 1947. Then the following year, Little League Baseball announced that the LLWS and Little League Softball World Series would go on, but will be played with U.S.-based teams only. Two teams will qualify from eight U.S. regions for a 16-team LLWS, and two teams qualifying from five U.S. regions will compete in a 10-team LLSWS. A planned expansion of the LLBWS field to 20 teams and the LLSWS field to 12 teams has been postponed to 2022, and all other Little League division championships have been canceled.
On 23 February 2021, the WBSC announced that the U-15 Baseball World Cup and Women's Baseball World Cup, scheduled to be held in March in Tijuana, had been postponed due to the "pandemic and associated international travel restrictions." On 1 October 2021, the two competitions were cancelled.
On 2 June 2021, the Chinese Taipei national baseball team withdrew from the final round of the qualifiers for the 2020 Summer Olympics due to concerns related to player safety from COVID-19 in Mexico. On 8 June, the Australia national baseball team withdrew from the same round due to logistical issues caused by COVID-19.
On 29 July 2021, the WBSC announced that the U-18 Baseball World Cup, scheduled to be held in September in Manatee County, Florida, would be postponed indefinitely due to a resurgence of the pandemic.
On 26 February 2020, Nippon Professional Baseball announced that spring training would continue behind closed doors. On 9 March, the league announced that the start of its 2020 season, originally scheduled for 20 March, would be postponed until April. Eventually, the heavily modified season started on 19 June and was shortened from 143 games to 120 games. To maximize the number of intraleague games that could be played, interleague play and the All-Star Series were eliminated. Additionally, NPB's post-season, the Climax Series, was affected as well. The Pacific League reduced their post-season from two playoff series to one, while the Central League cancelled their Climax Series altogether, instead opting to advance their regular-season champion directly to the Japan Series NPB Commissioner Atsushi Saito announced on June, fan entry admit within 5000 audience in ballpark, that start from 10 July, set on hand spray and thermo-temperatures measuring device in stadium entrance. According to NPB commissioner Saito announced on 12 September, the maximum spectator capacity increases from 11,000 to 20,000 from 19 September.
On 4 March, the Japan High School Baseball Federation announced that the National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament, scheduled to begin on 19 March, would take place without fans in attendance. However, on 11 March, the governing body of high school baseball in Japan declared that the tournament had been cancelled. The cancellation of the 2020 tournament marked the first time the contest was not organised since 1946, when the tournaments were not formally scheduled between 1942 and 1946, due to World War II. According to JHSBF chairman Eiji Hatta announced on 20 May, all games, including regional qualifying for the High School Baseball Tournament of Japan were called off, marking the first time since World War II. According to Japan Students, Baseball Association honour chairman Tatsuro Matsumae announced on 9 October, a Meiji Shrine Baseball Tournament, was called off because of restrictions around the Tokyo Metropolitan Area for the first time since 1988, when it was not held because of the illness involving Emperor Shōwa at the time.
Opening Day of the 2020 KBO League season was originally scheduled for 28 March 2020. The Korea Baseball Organization announced in March that all ten exhibition games would be cancelled. The league later decided that exhibition games would be played starting 21 April with no spectators. The start of the regular season would also take place with no spectators, on 5 May.
The Taiwan-based Chinese Professional Baseball League was scheduled to begin its 2020 season on 14 March. On 1 April, the league announced that opening day would take place on 11 April, without fans in attendance. Due to inclement weather on that date, games did not begin until 12 April. On 9 May, the CPBL began admitting spectators.
On 12 March 2020, Major League Baseball suspended all spring training activities. Opening Day of the 2020 season, scheduled for 26 March, was postponed, as was the start of the regular season for Minor League Baseball, which was to begin on 9 April. In addition, the Mexico Series and Puerto Rico Series games were canceled; the former would have featured the San Diego Padres playing the Arizona Diamondbacks at Mexico City's Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú, and the latter featuring the New York Mets playing the Miami Marlins at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan. MLB also canceled the 2020 London Series games, which would have featured the Chicago Cubs playing the St. Louis Cardinals at London Stadium.
Also on 12 March, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced the suspension of its baseball season and cancellation of the entire season, further adding an automatic redshirt year without officially using a redshirt year. Seniors who would have exhausted their eligibility would not be charged a year, as most conferences had not begun their conference seasons.
On 30 April, the 2020 Little League World Series and its other associated tournaments were canceled, and with it, the 2020 MLB Little League Classic game between the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles scheduled for 23 August in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Several summer collegiate baseball leagues were canceled entirely, while others postponed their starts from the beginning of June to the beginning of July. The Portland Pickles of the West Coast League announced that they would play without fans, while several other teams withdrew from their leagues entirely.
In late May 2020, multiple members of the Fieras del San Fernando of the Nicaraguan Professional Baseball League contracted COVID. Coach Carlos Aranda fell ill, was brought to a hospital in Nicaragua already unconscious and died. The deaths attracted attention to the government's response to the pandemic as Nicaragua was one of the few countries in which sporting events continued as scheduled.
On 30 June 2020 the Minor League Baseball season was canceled outright. On 1 July, the 2020 Mexican Baseball League season was cancelled, citing that the league's reliance on ticket sales for team revenue made playing games behind closed doors economically unviable.
A shortened 60-game 2020 Major League Baseball season began on 23 July; all neutral site games were cancelled, and no game was played outside of the Contiguous United States (including international neutral site games, and the Toronto Blue Jays playing most of their home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo (home of the Buffalo Bisons, a Blue Jays minor league affiliate) rather than Rogers Centre due to Canadian travel restrictions). The schedule limited games to divisional opponents to reduce travel, with interleague games played against corresponding divisions (i.e. AL East vs. NL East) rather than the annual alternating cycle. New temporary rules were enacted, including social distancing violations with umpires and opposing players being classified as unsportsmanlike conduct, the National League using designated hitters for all games, and each extra half-inning beginning with a runner on second base. It was later decided that games in doubleheaders would also be shortened to seven innings.
The postseason was expanded to 16 teams, with the top two teams in each of the six divisions, as well as the top two remaining teams based on regular season records, advancing to the best-of-three "Wild Card Series" round (which replaced the usual Wild Card Game). The winners advanced to the eight-team Division Series round as normal. Approximately 40 regular season games were cancelled due to outbreaks within teams. It was later announced that in an effort to diminish the impact of further outbreaks, all postseason games would be centralized at one of several venues in California or Texas beginning with the Division Series round, and that the entirety of the 2020 World Series would be held at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, new home of the Texas Rangers. All games throughout the season were played behind closed doors, with the only exceptions being the 2020 National League Championship Series and 2020 World Series at Globe Life Field (which offered limited in-person attendance).
After Game 6 of the World Series, Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner stormed onto the field with his teammates to celebrate his team's championship, despite having been removed from the game in the eighth inning after testing positive for COVID-19. Turner later apologized for the incident, and Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred announced that no actions would be taken, citing Turner's apology and admitting that "we all have made mistakes as we navigated these unprecedented challenges and have tried to learn from those mistakes so they are not repeated."
Major League Baseball returned to a full 162-game season for 2021, but some protocols and scheduling changes from the 2020 season remain in place, including shortened doubleheader games, and interleague games being played against teams from the corresponding region. No games are scheduled outside the contiguous United States or Canada. The Blue Jays hoped to return to Rogers Centre if travel restrictions permitted, but instead began the season at their spring training home of TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Florida before returning to Sahlen Field beginning in June. On 16 July, the team received a National Letter of Exemption from the Canadian government allowing home games to return to Toronto, effective with the contest of 30 July. Strict health protocols will be in place for visiting teams and attendance will be limited to 15,000 fans per game.
Minor League Baseball, which had extensive retooling during the offseason, revealed its original schedule for the season on 18 February. It included staggered starts for the Triple-A level (6 April or 8 April) and all other levels (4 May). Triple-A teams would play 142 games each, and all other teams would play 120 games each. All games will be played in six-game series at a single ballpark, with one day off during each series. Originally, no postseason play was planned, but on 1 July MiLB reversed course and announced that the top two teams in each league from Low-A to Double-A, based on winning percentage, will play best-of-5 series. The Triple-A level will have two separate championships: one for the teams with the best regular-season record, and the other for the winners of 10-game mini-tournaments called the "Triple-A Final Stretch." On 3 March, MLB informed its minor-league organizations that the start of the Triple-A season would be postponed until sometime in early May, at the same time of those of other levels. Players assigned to Triple-A teams would be sent to alternate training sites, which were used by MLB organizations in 2020 as well.
On 12 February 2021, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced that a smaller, indoor ceremony would replace the usual outdoor event. The inductions of Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, Ted Simmons, and Marvin Miller had already been postponed by one year when that ceremony was canceled outright. Unrelated to the pandemic and because no candidates met the year's election criteria, no new members will be inducted in 2021. On 9 June, HOF officials announced a change to an outdoor ceremony with a limited number of tickets available, with the event scheduled for 8 September.
On 5 April 2021, the Texas Rangers held its home opener at Globe Life Field with around 38,000 fans, after having announced that it would not limit capacity for the game. This came as the state of Texas removed capacity limits for businesses state-wide. Despite criticism from health officials and U.S. president Joe Biden, there have been no significant spikes in cases tied to Rangers games, and cases had been declining in the state. By May 2021, as restrictions eased across the country due to vaccination progress and a resulting reduction in caseloads, teams have gradually increased their spectator limits, and more teams announced plans to remove restrictions. Prior to the start of the season, MLB and the MLBPA announced that they would allow teams to ease their COVID-19 protocols if at least 85% of their "tier 1" staff (such as players) are fully-vaccinated.
Early on the morning of 26 June, the NCAA announced that North Carolina State had to withdraw from the College World Series due to multiple positive tests and required contract tracing. On 25 June, the Wolfpack had lost to Vanderbilt with only 13 players available.
The 2019–20 Chinese Basketball Association season was suspended on 1 February 2020. However, China Basketball Association (CBA) chairman Yao Ming announced that the season will restart on 20 June, without spectators.
On 14 February, FIBA ordered two qualifying games for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup, Philippines vs Thailand in Quezon City, and Japan vs. China in Chiba to be postponed to a later date. This brought the postponed games to three, after FIBA earlier ordered the China vs. Malaysia game in Foshan to be postponed. Later that week, the Guam vs. Hong Kong game in Hagåtña was also postponed.
The Korean Basketball League canceled its 2019–20 season on 24 March, after playing its last game on 29 February. This comes as the Women's Korean Basketball League canceled its season a week before.
On 4 March, FIBA announced the cancellation of the 2019 FIBA Under-16 Asian Championship in Beirut and the 2019 FIBA Under-16 Asian Championship for Women in Canberra. It also postponed the 3x3 Olympic qualification tournament in Bangalore, and rescheduled the 2020 FIBA Asia 3x3 Cups in Changsha and the 2020 FIBA 3x3 Under-17 Asian Cup in Cyberjaya.
The 2019–20 season of the Super Basketball League in Taiwan continued despite the outbreak. When the Taiwanese government shut down all publicly-controlled arenas on 19 March, the league contemplated of shutting down as well, but ended up on holding all of its games at the HaoYu Basketball Training Center. No less than 100 people are in the arena at any time.
ASEAN Basketball League
Several fixtures of the ASEAN Basketball League 2019–20 season scheduled in February onwards were rescheduled due to the coronavirus pandemic. In early March 2020, four participating teams, Alab Pilipinas, Hong Kong Eastern, Macau Black Bears and Formosa Dreamers has released statements urging the suspension of the whole season due to logistical issues posed by COVID-19-related travel measures in Southeast Asia, mainland China and Taiwan. On 13 March 2020, the league's 2019–20 season was postponed indefinitely. On 15 July 2020, the league announced that it canceled the season, without a champion being named.
The 2020 season of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and the PBA D-League was suspended indefinitely on 10 March 2020 after its first game had completed. The inaugural of the PBA's 3x3 tournament was also likewise delayed. The PBA management also imposed a two-week prohibition on team "practices, scrimmages and other related activities" which took effect on 14 March 2020.
On 7 April 2020, the PBA Board of Governors have decided to shorten this season into a two-conference season (later revised to a one-conference season on August) following the postponement of the Philippine Cup due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the enforcement of the Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon until 30 April.
On 17 September, the PBA Board of Governors have approved a plan to restart the season on 11 October (originally on 9 October), then was given a provisional approval by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-IED) on 24 September. All games will be played in the "PBA bubble" at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga, the isolation zone specifically created for league operations.
Jordi Bertomeu, CEO of the Euroleague, suspended the games from 14 March to 11 April. The Euroleague previously suspended the Eurocup. FIBA also suspended the Basketball Champions League and the FIBA Europe Cup starting on 14 March. Lithuania, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia and Ukraine canceled outright their respective first division leagues, naming the teams in the top of the standings as champions. Top flight divisions in Spain, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Belgium, Finland, Croatia, Greece, Poland, Cyprus, and Czech Republic suspended its games as of 14 March. The Adriatic League and the VTB United League suspended its competitions until April.
On 11 March 2020, the National Basketball Association (NBA) suspended its season after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for coronavirus prior to tip-off for a scheduled game against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Commissioner Adam Silver stated the next day that this suspension "will be most likely at least 30 days, and we don't know enough to be more specific than that".
On 12 March, all Division I conferences in college basketball canceled their respective tournaments in-progress. The Ivy League had already called off its tournament prior to the decision, while some conferences, as well as the NCAA for its men's and women's tournaments, had previously announced that they would conduct their games behind closed doors. The NCAA subsequently canceled its tournaments outright.
On 3 April, the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) announced that they had postponed the start of training camp and regular season which was originally scheduled for 15 May. The 2020 WNBA draft was held virtually and televised on 17 April 2020 without players, guests, and media on-site. The 2020 WNBA season was held in a "bubble" setting at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida starting on 25 July and ending when the Seattle Storm completed a three-games-to-none sweep of the Las Vegas Aces to win the league championship on 6 October.
On 4 June, the NBA announced that the season would restart on 31 July for 22 teams still in playoff contention at the time of the suspension, and would finish no later than 12 October. Professional teams such as the Houston Rockets saw their seasons impacted as players like all-star Russell Westbrook tested positive for COVID-19.
On 30 July, the 2019–20 NBA season officially resumed in a "bubble" setting at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Bay Lake, Florida. Play concluded on 11 October when the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship.
Pandemic impacts continued into the next college basketball season. The earliest allowable date for games in the 2020–21 season was pushed back from 10 to 25 November, when most campuses would have either concluded their fall term or moved remaining classes online. In addition, the maximum number of games was reduced by four (to 27), and the minimum number of games required to qualify for the national championship tournament was halved from 26 to 13. Some conferences adapted altered scheduling formats intended to limit air travel (divisions, back to back games at one site), and allow opportunities for cancelled games to be rescheduled.
A number of early-season tournaments and showcases (usually held around the Thanksgiving holiday) were cancelled, relocated, or rearranged due to logistical concerns—especially those held outside of the continental U.S.). The Maui Invitational was moved from Lahaina, Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, while the Battle 4 Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas was cancelled outright. A new one-off tournament known as the Crossover Classic was organized in Sioux Falls, South Dakota as an unofficial substitute, initially inviting most of the teams originally committed to Battle 4 Atlantis (although many of them would later drop out). The Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut hosted a two-week series of non-conference games known as "Bubbleville", organized by Gazelle Group and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which primarily featured showcases and tournaments organized by the two (such as the Empire Classic, Hall of Fame Tip Off, and Legends Classic).
Due to logistical concerns, the NCAA centralized the early rounds of its 2021 Division I men's and women's basketball tournaments at sites in the regions of the host city for their respective Final Four—Indianapolis and San Antonio respectively—rather than at sites around the country. The 2021 National Invitation Tournament was reduced from 32 teams to 16, with automatic bids for teams that win their conference's regular-season championships but not their conference tournaments eliminated. The championship game took place at Comerica Center in Frisco, Texas, marking the first time in the NIT's 83-year history that Madison Square Garden in New York City did not stage the final.
The 2020–21 NBA season began on 22 December. Each team played 72 games - less than the normal 82 games, but more than teams played the prior season, including the games in the bubble. The NBA released the slate in two parts, with the first covering games from 22 December to the start of a six-day break on 5 March, and the second covering the period from 10 March to the end of the regular season in mid-May. All games were to be played at home arenas, with health and safety protocols still in place. The Utah Jazz were the first team to admit a limited crowd to home games, with other teams following suit as the season progressed and as local authorities allowed. By 18 April, all 30 teams permitted crowds at their home venues.
After announcing on 25 November 2020 that its annual All-Star Game and other weekend events would not be held during the coming season - and giving the original host team, the Indiana Pacers, the 2024 game as compensation, the league reversed course on 18 February 2021 and played the game at State Farm Arena in Atlanta on 7 March.
On 8 January 2021, the G League announced plans to run its entire season at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Play began on 10 February and consisted of a four-week regular season and single-elimination playoffs. Eighteen of the league's 29 teams participated, including the newly launched NBA G League Ignite team of prospects. The Lakeland Magic defeated the Delaware Blue Coats on 11 March in the championship game.
The induction ceremony of the class of 2020 for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame was postponed from September 2020 to 15 May 2021 and was moved from Springfield, Massachusetts, where the hall is located, to the Mohegan Sun Arena. Among the inductees were Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, and Kim Mulkey.
On 29 September, a new series of protocols was revealed in a memo sent jointly by the NBA and the NBAPA. It will restrict player movements and activities, both on and off the court, for players who have not been fully vaccinated. In addition, players who are suspended for protocol violations will not be paid.
Players and other key personnel of the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Golden State Warriors are required to be fully vaccinated in order to enter their home facilities, pursuant to the laws of, respectively, New York City and San Francisco. Members of visiting teams are not required to be vaccinated.
In Australia's National Basketball League, the 2020 NBL Grand Final between the Sydney Kings and Perth Wildcats was played behind closed doors beginning with Game 2, and the NBL stated that it would be suspended immediately if any player was diagnosed.
After Game 3—trailing 2–1 in a best-of-five series—the Kings announced 17 March that they would withdraw from the Finals, due to "a critical mass of relevant and actual concerns related to player welfare and the club's social responsibility". The NBL had been considering playing Game 4 of the series on 18 March instead of 20 March as originally scheduled to accelerate its completion. On 18 March, the NBL declared the Perth Wildcats as champions by default.
Several competitive events in international competitive bodybuilding on the amateur and professional levels have seen limitations, postponements, or even cancellations due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.
Due to these concerns Ohio governor Mike DeWine reduced the 2020 Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, Ohio on 3 March, before any cases or deaths had been reported in the state. The cancellation was widely regarded as 'radical' at the time. The Fitness Expo (under orders from the state government) held the bodybuilding and physique competitions, including the Arnold Classic, without spectators with exceptions for parents and guardians of minors participating in the competitions. Similar Arnold Sports Festivals planned to be held in Africa, Australia, and South America were postponed for later in the year.
On 16 March 2020, Jim Manion, president of the IFBB Professional League and the National Physique Committee announced that competitions planned through to 10 May 2020 in the United States would be postponed for later in the year or canceled until the 2021 season.
The 2020 World Outdoor Bowls Championship scheduled to be held on the Gold Coast from 23 May to 7 June 2020, had been postponed until 25 May to 6 June 2021, but were officially cancelled on 9 March 2021.
In response to the shutdown of extracurricular activities for children in Catalonia, the Coordinadora de Colles Castelleres de Catalunya (CCCC), the governing body for castells (Catalan human towers), issued a statement on 10 March 2020, recommending the suspension of all castells practices and performances. Subsequently, the lockdown imposed throughout Spain shut down all castells activities throughout Catalonia as of 15 March. The postponement to 2022 of the Tarragona Castells Contest, scheduled for 3 and 4 October 2020, was finally announced on 15 July 2020.
Another major castells festival, the Festes Decennals de la Mare de Déu de la Candela, held only once every ten years and scheduled for 29 January-7 February 2021, was also postponed. If it is held in 2022 as tentatively planned, it will be the first time since it was founded in 1791 that it will be held in a year not ending in 1.
According to the CCCC, the last April without any castells was in 1966.
The FIDE Candidates Tournament 2020, held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, was suspended at the mid-point of the tournament on 26 March. FIDE decided to postpone the second half of the tournament after Russia announced it would be interrupting air traffic with other countries starting on 27 March.
2019–20 FIS Cross-Country World Cup
The 2020 Holmenkollen Ski Festival in Oslo, Norway, part of the 2019–20 FIS Cross-Country World Cup, was held on 7–8 March, without spectators in the stadium part of the Holmenkollen National Arena.
The final two events of the World Cup season, the 2020 Sprint Tour (14–17 March, in Quebec City, Canada and Minneapolis, United States) and the 2020 World Cup Finals (20–21 March, in Canmore, Canada), were cancelled on 12 and 13 March.
2020–21 FIS Cross-Country World Cup
The second round of the World Cup, to be held in Lillehammer, Norway, 4–6 December, was postponed on 12 November, due to the current status of COVID-19 prevention measures, with a new date to be announced later.
On 1 December, the Norwegian Ski Federation (NSF) announced that they would not send any skiers to take part in the World Cup events in Davos, Switzerland, and Dresden, Germany, in December, and possibly not take part in the Tour de Ski, which is planned to begin on 1 January 2021. Espen Bjervig, manager of the NSF's cross-country section said the decision was based on "the risk of travelling, we have experienced that keeping distance and avoiding close contact in the World Cup arena is more demanding than we first assumed", and that "endurance athletes have their lungs as a tool, and we do not know the after-effects of COVID-19. Therefore, we must take precautions".
On 2 December, the Swedish Ski Association and the Finnish Ski Association announced that they would mirror Norway's decision, and not send any skiers to the events in Davos and Dresden. International Ski Federation (FIS) marketing director Jürg Capol was critical of the three countries pulling out of the events and said "We need solidarity. If it's not given it's going to be hard to find (competition) arrangers in the future", and added that "Of course all nations must make their own decisions. The problem is not that they can not get to the competitions, but that they themselves have chosen not to go there".
On 4 December, the FIS cancelled the World Cup races in Beijing, China, citing travel restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, "including a current mandatory 14-day quarantine for all international visitors" in China. The races were supposed to be held 19–21 March, and would have acted as a dress rehearsal for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The FIS said they would be looking for a replacement host for the races.
2021 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships
The 2021 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, from 22 February to 7 March, in Oberstdorf, Germany, are planned to go ahead as scheduled. The organiser has set a limit of two thousand spectators around the cross-country trails.
The curling season typically ends in May but was cut short by the pandemic, effectively ending in early March. The World Curling Federation cancelled the last five championships scheduled for the 2019–20 curling season, most importantly the 2020 World Women's Curling Championship, 2020 World Men's Curling Championship, and 2020 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship. The Grand Slam of Curling cancelled its two remaining events of the 2019–20 season, the Champions Cup and Players' Championship.
For the 2020–21 season, Curling Canada postponed the Canada Cup, and cancelled various other events such as the Continental Cup (due to international travel restrictions), Canadian Mixed Curling Championship, Canadian Curling Club Championships, Canadian Junior Curling Championships and Canadian U18 Curling Championships, among others,. In December 2020, Curling Canada re-located its remaining 2021 championships to a bubble in Calgary, including the 2021 World Men's Curling Championship.
On 2 December 2020, the World Curling Federation postponed the 2021 World Wheelchair-B Curling Championship, the inaugural 2021 World Wheelchair Mixed Doubles Curling Championship (although referring to it as a cancellation, World Curling stated that it was exploring rescheduling the event), and cancelled the 2021 World Senior Curling Championships for the second straight year, citing a need to prioritize events with implications on qualification for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. Due to the cancellation of the 2020 world championships, it was announced that the top six teams in the world men's, women's, and mixed doubles championships would qualify their respective National Olympic Committee for the Olympics (rather than the previous plan of using points earned during the 2020 and 2021 world championships), with a final qualification tournament held in December 2021 to fill the remaining spots.
The 2021 World Women's Curling Championship was originally scheduled for Switzerland. After local authorities withdrew their consent to host the tournament there, the World Curling Federation announced 8 February 2021 that the tournament had been cancelled. However, in early-March, the tournament was reinstated after Curling Canada offered to host it within the Calgary bubble as well. In between the men's and women's world championships, the Grand Slam of Curling would also hold their previously-cancelled Champions Cup and Players' Championship.
The World Curling Championships would present the first disruptions of competition within the bubble due to positive tests. During the men's championship, playoff matches on 10 April were postponed due to multiple positive tests being recorded, including one member of a playoff team (who was already vaccinated, and later rested negative), and four among players from eliminated teams. The four tests were later deemed false positives, and play resumed the next day. Due to positive tests among the host broadcast staff, the World Women's Curling Championship suspended all television coverage from 2–6 May, resuming in time for the playoff rounds.
Due to the second wave of cases nationwide, in December 2020 USA Curling cancelled its 2020 Seniors Championship, and delayed all of its other national championships to no earlier than May 2021. As this falls after the world championships, USA Curling announced that its berths would therefore be given to the teams that were to represent the United States in 2020. The Arena National Championships were later cancelled, and the Junior and Mixed championships were postponed to later in the year.
The 2020 UAE Tour was scheduled to run until 29 February, but was abandoned following stage five after two support staff tested positive for coronavirus. Of the following nineteen 2020 UCI World Tour races scheduled to take place up to 31 May, only Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Paris–Nice, which also had the final day of racing removed, took place at the intended time, some with the stated hope of taking place at a later date. The postponed races in this block include the 2020 Giro d'Italia and four of the five annual monuments, and many lower category races were also cancelled or postponed. Also races of the 2020 UCI Women's World Tour were cancelled or postponed.[excessive citations]
On 15 March, UCI requested to suspend all UCI-sanctioned events in affected territories until 3 April, and the qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to stop retroactively as of 3 March. On 18 March, the suspension of events were extended at least until the end of April. On 1 April, the suspension was extended until 1 June, and on 15 April, it was extended until 1 July for the international races, and until 1 August for the UCI World Tour races.
On 14 April, the annual Tour de France, originally scheduled for 27 June – 19 July, was postponed due to the country's strict measures with the coronavirus as the government extended a ban on mass gatherings until July. The following day, ASO and UCI rescheduled the race for 29 August to 20 September, and it was ultimately held at that time. A virtual race was conducted every weekend with bikers and teams racing against each other from their homes.
A revised calendar for both the men and the women was issued on 5 May, which was updated on 12 June.
On 15 July, the first UCI-sanctioned race after the suspension, Dookoła Mazowsza was commenced. The first UCI World Tour race after the suspension was Strade Bianche on 1 August, which was moved from its original schedule in March.
On 23 July, the GP de Québec and the GP de Montréal races scheduled for September in Quebec City and Montreal were cancelled. On 9 October Paris-Roubaix, originally scheduled for 25 October, was added to the listed of cancelled races.
For the 2021 UCI World Tour, the tour's three events in Australia in January–February (Tour Down Under, Great Ocean Road Race, Herald Sun Tour) were cancelled. Paris–Roubaix, originally scheduled in April, was postponed to October. Many continental circuit races were cancelled, some races such as Tour of Qinghai Lake (usually class 2.HC) and Tour of Japan (2.1) downgraded themselves to the class 2.2 and held with domestic teams only during the international travel restrictions.
The Professional Darts Corporation's European Tour was impacted by the coronavirus; with the 2020 European Darts Grand Prix, the 2020 European Darts Open and the 2020 German Darts Grand Prix all being postponed following restrictions on gatherings implemented by federal governments in Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria, respectively. The tournaments were officially cancelled on 29 May, with the PDC announcing the European Tour would downsize from the initial plan of thirteen events to five, including one from before the restrictions came in. The two 2020 Premier League Darts rounds to be held in Rotterdam at the end of March were postponed to September following restrictions on gatherings in the Netherlands; and the round to be held in Newcastle a week earlier was subsequently postponed to October. The next five rounds, in Belfast, Sheffield, Manchester, Berlin and Birmingham were also postponed to later dates, with the Sheffield dates now serving as the Play-Off Round. All ProTour events from 16 March to the end of June were postponed.
On 15 July it was announced that the 2020 Premier League Darts rounds which were to be held in Rotterdam, Birmingham, Belfast, Leeds and Berlin would be cancelled, and instead be played at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes. As well, the Play-offs were shifted back to London. On 17 August the rounds in Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle and Sheffield were cancelled, and instead would also be played at Milton Keynes. Finally on 30 September the Play-offs were moved to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. The 2020 World Matchplay was also relocated to Milton Keynes and held behind closed doors, rather than the usual venue of Blackpool. The 2020 Champions League of Darts was cancelled, and the PDC World Cup of Darts was postponed from June to November and moved from Hamburg, Germany originally to Graz, Austria, before being moved again to Salzburg.
The planned first event on the 2020 World Series of Darts, the US Darts Masters, was canceled for 2020, and the 2020 Nordic Darts Masters was originally postponed from June to October before being cancelled on 14 August. The three Australian events The PDC's North American affiliate, the Championship Darts Corporation, cancelled the first weekend of its season in Ontario, and the New Zealand affiliate DartPlayers tour was ended for 2019/20 following the cancellation of events in Queenstown.
The 2021 PDC World Darts Championship was initially able to host 1,000 spectators under English "Tier 2" restrictions. However, the event was moved behind closed doors after the government announced that London would be moved to Tier 3 restrictions that prohibited indoor gatherings.
Impact of the pandemic on esports have primarily affected events and leagues that host competitions in-person (typically to reduce latency between players that can impact games played over the internet, and to allow for an in-person audience in a similar fashion to traditional sporting events), which led to cancellations and postponements, and competitions being held behind closed doors—either in the traditional sense, or with competition being conducted entirely over the internet rather than in-person, with streaming broadcasts (as are typical for esports).
Sportcal suggested that the esports industry had an opportunity to attract mainstream sports fans as a "viable alternative" to traditional sporting events. Roundhill Investments CEO Will Hershey predicted that games that are straightforward for casual viewers to understand (such as sports games) could see particular interest among this new audience.
Crossover with traditional sports
The suspension of sports competitions allowed professional athletes to increase their involvement in video game streaming as a means to engage with fans. Esports organisations also invited professional athletes to compete in specific competitions (often alongside, or in competition with professional players); FaZe Clan organized a charity Call of Duty: Warzone pro-am entitled "Fight 2 Fund" in support of COVID-19-related charities, where professional players were partnered with celebrity participants (such as Ben Simmons, Chad Johnson, and JuJu Smith-Schuster), and several sim racing competitions similarly invited professional race drivers.
Some sports teams took advantage of sports games in a similar manner, such as the Phoenix Suns holding NBA 2K20 streams with guest players, between the teams the Suns were scheduled to play that night if the NBA season had continued. This culminated with a game being broadcast by the team's radio commentators on team flagship KMVP-FM. The NFL canceled its 2021 Pro Bowl game and replaced it with a Madden NFL 21 event, featuring NFL players and other celebrities controlling the Pro Bowl roster (voted on by fans as normal) in a "virtual" Pro Bowl game.
Sports broadcasters also took advantage of esports as a form of replacement programming, with leagues partnering to hold televised tournaments in sports games featuring their players, or in some cases (such as ESPN2 simulcasting the 2020 League of Legends Championship Series) acquiring professional esports events to air on television. The IndyCar Series and NASCAR announced partnerships with sim racing platform iRacing to hold online invitational events featuring series regulars. The inaugural eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series event drew a television audience of 903,000 on Fox Sports 1—making it the most-watched esports broadcast on U.S. linear television since a 2016 Mortal Kombat X tournament aired by The CW. This record was surpassed the following week with a Texas Motor Speedway race — also aired by the main Fox network — which attracted 1.339 million viewers.
After being well-received, a second, 10-event eNASCAR iRacing series was announced for 2021, mainly to fulfill television inventory with its media partners Fox and NBC (as NASCAR has continued its COVID-19 protocol of not holding practice or qualifying sessions at events). The series runs on selected Wednesday nights during the NASCAR season, primarily featuring existing tracks with a change to their surface or vehicle configuration.
On 3 March 2020, the Fédération Internationale d'Escrime (FIE) issued its first bulletin on COVID-19 precautions. On 10 March FIE strongly recommended that all participants in its competitions (athletes and other members of national delegations) fill and carry with them a questionnaire about their health status. On 12 March a FIE circular reported the postponement of six World Cup or Grand Prix competitions and the World Junior/Cadet Championship. Since the World Cup and Grand Prix events were part of the qualifications for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the circular warned on the need to postpone the zonal qualifications tournament for the Olympics. No news was given on other events, and their possible postponement or cancellation.
FIE reported on its web site the postponement of the Olympic Games, but hasn't yet given any information on the World Fencing Championships, which is supposed to happen in non-Olympic years, so there is a 2021 Championship planned (assigned to Cairo), but not a 2020 Championship.
The 2019–20 Euro Hockey League Final 8 and 2020 Euro Hockey League Women seasons were suspended on 12 March. The 2020 Men's EuroHockey Club Trophy I, 2020 Men's EuroHockey Club Trophy II, 2020 Boys' EuroHockey Youth Championships, and 2020 Girls' EuroHockey Youth Championships were cancelled.
In Asia, the 2020 Men's Hockey Junior Asia Cup, 2020 Women's Asian Champions Trophy, and 2020 Women's Hockey Junior Asia Cup were postponed. The 2020 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup was originally postponed to 24 September. But on 2 May the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup was officially cancelled.
- 2019–20 season
The 2020 World Junior Championships, held on 2–8 March in Tallinn, Estonia, were the last major event to be held amid rising concerns about the pandemic. All remaining events on the season calendar, including the World Championships, were cancelled.
The 2020 World Championships, originally scheduled for 16–22 March 2020 in Montreal, Canada, were first postponed on 11 March by the Quebec Health Ministry. On 12 April 2020, ISU Vice-president for Figure Skating, Alexander Lakernik, told media that the chances of rescheduling the championship were slim, due to the ongoing pandemic. The ISU confirmed a complete cancellation of the event, with no chance of postponement to a later date, on 16 April 2020.
- 2020–21 season
The 2020–21 ISU Junior Grand Prix series was cancelled on 20 July 2020. Over half of the events of the 2020–21 ISU Challenger Series were either also cancelled by the host federations or postponed to an unspecified later date. The Challenger Series events were held as individual events, and thus did not award prize money based on overall series rank.
The 2020–21 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating events were heavily modified to accommodate ongoing travel restrictions and the series' culminating event, the 2020–21 Grand Prix Final, was postponed from its original date of 10–13 December in Beijing, China. On 14 October 2020, the second event in the Grand Prix series, the 2020 Skate Canada International, was cancelled by the host federation. On 19 October 2020, the fourth event in the series, the 2020 Internationaux de France, was also cancelled. In November, the Grand Prix Final was first removed from being held in China altogether, before being definitively cancelled on 10 December 2020.
On 16 October 2020, the ISU announced the cancellation of the 2021 Four Continents Championships. On 24 November 2020, the 2021 World Junior Championships were also cancelled. On 10 December 2020, the 2021 European Championships became the third ISU Championships event of the season to be cancelled.
The 2021 World Championships were held as scheduled despite concerns from athletes, fans, and media, with COVID-19 protocols in place. During the event, two athletes and an unknown third person tested positive for COVID-19, with at least one other athlete testing positive in the weeks following the competition.
Several countries postponed or cancelled their national championships. U.S. Figure Skating relocated the 2021 U.S. Championships to be able to create an isolated bubble environment similar to that of 2020 Skate America, both of which were held at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Due to skaters' limited availability to travel to competitions, the ISU announced that ISU World Standings and Season's World Ranking points would not be awarded at early season events, including the ISU Challenger Series and the ISU Grand Prix. Scores earned at the domestic Grand Prix events also did not count as official ISU scores for the purposes of achieving minimum TES requirements or as personal/season's bests.
- 2021–22 season
The 2021–22 ISU Junior Grand Prix series was largely held as scheduled – the second event was relocated from Canada to France – but several countries were unable to attend certain stops due to travel restrictions, resulting in the creation of a reallocation process for quota spots on a case-by case basis. Other federations, including the Japan Skating Federation and the Chinese Skating Association, chose to forego the series entirely. Similarly, the 2021–22 ISU Challenger Series was also able to largely take place as scheduled, with the exception of the cancelled 2021 CS Nepela Memorial; however, several events were unable to attract a sufficient number of entries to qualify Challenger status.
On 16 August 2021, the ISU announced the cancellation of 2021 Cup of China, citing the limited number of international flights to China and strict COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The ISU announced 2021 Grand Prix of Italy as the replacement event on 27 August after asking for applications from alternate hosts.
On 13 September 2021, Chinese Skating Association withdrew from hosting the 2022 Four Continents Championships. The proximity of the event in timing and location to the 2022 Winter Olympics raised questions over whether the Olympics could be safely held by China. The ISU again asked for other ISU members to apply as alternative hosts.
On 17 March, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) confirmed that the opening fixture of the 2020 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship—due to have taken place at Gaelic Park in The Bronx on 3 May—had been postponed.
Many elite golf tournaments, both professional and amateur, have either been postponed or canceled in response to the pandemic, including the major championships. On 13 March, it was announced that the Masters Tournament (scheduled for 9–12 April) had been postponed. The 2020 PGA Championship (scheduled for 11–17 May) was postponed the following week. On 6 April, The R&A announced the cancellation of the 2020 Open Championship, the first cancellation since World War II. This was soon followed by the USGA announcing the rescheduling of the 2020 U.S. Open from 18 to 21 June to 17–20 September (the week before the 2020 Ryder Cup, which itself was postponed for a year when organizers chose cancellation to playing the event behind closed doors) and to 12–15 November for the Masters (the first ever iteration of the tournament to be played in November) and 6–9 August for the PGA Championship. The ladies majors have been similarly affected, with the LPGA Tour postponing the ANA Inspiration until September.
On 12 March 2020, midway through the first round of the 2020 Players Championship, the PGA Tour announced that the remainder of the tournament and the next three events, the Valspar Championship, WGC Match Play, and the Valero Texas Open, would continue without fan attendance. Subsequently, after completion of the day's play, the tour decided to cancel the remainder of tournament and the three following events. On 17 March, the tour announced the cancellation of all scheduled tournaments through 10 May. The European Tour have also cancelled or postponed many tournaments, mostly those scheduled from mid-March through to the end of May, including the Irish Open, a Rolex Series event. The Ladies European Tour originally postponed the 2020 Evian Championship, originally scheduled for 23–26 July, to 6–9 August, but on 9 June announced that the tournament (one of two women's majors outside of the United States) had been cancelled. The Women's Open Championship was still played, despite the cancellation of its parent men's event.
Other leading professional tours have announced similar measures, as have the bodies responsible for organising leading amateur events. On 1 April, the R&A and the USGA jointly announced that the Curtis Cup was being postponed until 2021, and the British men's and women's amateur championships were being rescheduled from June to August. The LPGA Tour have canceled three tournaments and postponed five others including the ANA Inspiration, and the Japan LPGA Tour cancelled twelve tournaments scheduled from March into May.
On 16 April 2020, the PGA Tour announced a condensed schedule for a proposed resumption of play on 11 June with the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. It aims to play most of the remaining tournaments of the 2019–20 season (preserving at least three quarters of the original schedule in total), concluding with the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the season-ending Tour Championship on Labor Day weekend, followed immediately by the beginning of the 2020–21 season (which will have a modified early-season schedule to accommodate the rescheduled majors) with the Safeway Open. Officials planned the events behind closed doors, although most events were held at courses with residences and/or rental units, and residents were allowed to "attend" the events from their yards on their property, or in the case of the RBC Heritage, from boats traveling the Calibogue Sound. Spectators were expected to return for the Memorial Tournament, but on 14 July it was announced that the remaining tournaments of the 2019–20 season would be played behind closed doors. The extra delay was intended to give the Tour more time for preparations, as well as take advantage of weeks opened by the cancellation and postponements of majors and the Summer Olympics; only one of the three remaining majors—the PGA Championship—fell within the remainder of the 2019–20 season's schedule. The Sanford International in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a PGA Tour Champions event in September, became the first PGA Tour-sanctioned event to allow spectators since the pandemic. The Corales Puntacana Resort and Club Championship became the first tournament with a pro-am since the pandemic, and the Tour intends to have the 2020 Bermuda Championship to be the first with spectators on the premier tour.
A charity skins game, TaylorMade Driving Relief, was held 17 May at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida, featuring Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler and Matthew Wolff; simulcast by NBC, Golf Channel, and NBCSN, it was the first televised event at Seminole, and the first in the United States since the suspension of PGA Tour play. A sequel to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson's 2018 match play event The Match, The Match: Champions for Charity, was announced for 24 May in a simulcast across WarnerMedia Entertainment networks, with the two participating in a four-ball match at Medalist Golf Club in Hobe Sound, Florida, with NFL quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Tom Brady as their respective partners.
Fox Sports opted out of its 12-year contract to broadcast the championships of the USGA and sold the rights to NBC Sports, with reports suggesting that Fox did not want to work around programming conflicts with its NFL and college football coverage, and that the USGA vetoed a proposal to move the tournament entirely to pay television channel Fox Sports 1.
Recreational golf has also been affected, with many countries and regions ordering the closure of golf clubs and courses. To enforce social distancing, regulations may require golf clubs to stagger tee times or restrict how services such as pro shops and golf carts are used. The game was played under no-touch rules. Ball washers and bunker rakes were decommissioned and "pin in" rules were placed on the green. To accommodate no-touch golf, holes were modified with an elevated rim or made shallow with a piece of foam (most often a cut pool noodle) or drain pipe or a safety plate. Some courses deployed a lift system that could be lifted with a putter head. If the edge of the hole was above the ground level, the ball is deemed to have been holed if the ball comes in contact with the raised rim or cylinder.
On 5 June 2021, after completion of the third round of the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour, Jon Rahm was notified that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Rahm was leading the Memorial Tournament by 6 strokes before having to withdraw due to Tour protocols. Rahm became the first positive, asymptomatic case as part of the tour's routine, contact-tracing protocols.
The 2020 English Greyhound Derby was postponed on 16 March. The Arena Racing Company tracks announced a behind closed doors policy from 24 March and racing in Ireland continued behind closed doors. Subsequently, all racing in the United Kingdom and Ireland was postponed until 1 June.
On 12 June it was announced that the 2020 English Greyhound Derby will be run on 31 October.
Multiple international artistic gymnastics competitions, many of which were Olympic qualifying events, were either canceled or postponed. On 13 March, after already having completed qualifications, the Baku World Cup canceled its event finals. The Stuttgart, Birmingham, and Tokyo World Cups (scheduled to take place between 21 March – 5 April) were all postponed to 2021.
The 2020 European Women's Championships (scheduled to take place 30 April – 3 May in Paris, France) and the 2020 European Men's Championships (scheduled to take place 27–31 May in Baku, Azerbaijan) were both cancelled. They were later both rescheduled to be held on 17–20 December and 9–13 December, respectively, in Mersin, Turkey after Baku considered hosting the replacement competitions. Originally Olympic qualifying events, the competitions were undesignated as such in light of the ongoing pandemic, so as to avoid pressuring member federations to attend if they were not willing to do so.
The Pacific Rim Championships (scheduled to take place 17–19 April in Tauranga, New Zealand) was postponed until April 2021. On 2 September 2020, Gymnastics New Zealand announced that it was withdrawing from hosting and cancelled the competition.
The 25–29 March, 2020 European Women's Handball Championship qualification matches in Rotterdam, the Netherlands were cancelled.
Horse racing is one sport that has been less directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic than most others; some countries and regions never stopped operating horse racing events, and racing was one of the first sports to be resumed in other regions.
In the early stages of the outbreak, most horse racing events remained scheduled as normal, but with restricted attendance at racecourses. This included Hong Kong, France, Japan, United Arab Emirates, United States, Australia, Ireland, United Kingdom, Germany, New Zealand, and Singapore.
The Macau Jockey Club suspended racing events from 31 January to 15 February and resumed racing from 22 February. The Korea Racing Authority suspended horse racing from 8 March. Sunland Park Racetrack in the United States canceled its race meeting from 16 March, which included the Sunland Derby, part of the 2020 Road to the Kentucky Derby. Many tracks in North America followed suit over the following weeks, although some remained open depending on state-by-state decisions. In Britain, although the Cheltenham Festival proceeded as normal in mid-March, the Grand National meeting at Aintree in April was cancelled. By mid-March Ireland had become the only major horse racing country in Europe where the sport continued, albeit strictly regulated and behind closed doors. Ireland finally closed down racing on 25 March.
Churchill Downs announced that the 2020 Kentucky Derby, normally the first leg of the American Triple Crown, would be delayed to 5 September. They had hoped to run the rescheduled race before a live (though reduced crowd) – this plan was eventually abandoned due to an increase in cases in the Louisville area. The change in dates for the Derby caused a cascading effect through the 2020 racing schedule, with the Maryland Jockey Club delaying the 2020 Preakness Stakes to 3 October. The Belmont Stakes, normally the third leg of the Triple Crown, was run at a shortened distance of 1+1⁄8 miles on 20 June as the first leg.
On 7 April, Jockey Club Racecourses announced that the first four Classics of the British flat racing season – the 2000 and 1000 Guineas, scheduled to be held on 2–3 May, and the Epsom Oaks and Derby, scheduled to be held on 5–6 June – would be postponed until later in the season. Ascot Racecourse also announced that Royal Ascot, scheduled to be held from 16 to 20 June, would take place behind closed doors if it gets the go-ahead.
To reduce the risk of transmission, horsemen may be limited from traveling to some racecourses or other horse racing facilities. Hong Kong-based jockey Keith Yeung felt unwell on 22 March night, but his test for COVID-19 PCR was negative. On 26 March, jockey Javier Castellano was the first American-based jockey to announce that he had tested positive. In July, fifteen jockeys in the Del Mar riding colony tested positive, forcing a brief closure of the Del Mar meeting.
Some stakes races' prize money were reduced. In Randwick Racecourse, Racing NSW announced all Group One and some Group two races in The Champions meeting prize reduced 50%. Inglis Easter Yearlings Sales are many others horse auction held at fully online. While France Galop resume racing form 11 May, but their prize money dropped by 20-40%. All Royal Ascot Group One races prize money are reduced to 250,000 GBP only.
In the U.S., horse racing gained an increased following as a form of live sports content on television, with efforts by the New York Racing Association and TVG Network (which also reached agreements with Fox Sports 1 and NBCSN respectively to help fill schedules with simulcast programming) to try and attract new viewers and customers for off-track betting at tracks still in operation. Mainstream attention to horse racing in the United States is usually focused upon the Triple Crown, and to a lesser degree the Breeders' Cup. Simulcasts also increased the prominence of lesser-known venues such as Fonner Park in Grand Island, Nebraska — which saw its average daily parimutuel handle surpass its previous single-day record of US$1.2 million on a regular basis.
- Cancelled race meetings and reopenings
- United States and Canada
- Sunland Park Racetrack, New Mexico – March meeting canceled
- Keeneland, Kentucky – April meeting canceled and rescheduled on 8 to 12 July. Kentucky Downs and Ellis Park closed down in mid-March, while Turfway Park canceled the last 4 days of its meeting at the end of March.
- Woodbine Racetrack, Toronto – harness racing closed on 14 March. Thoroughbred meeting scheduled to open on 18 April was postponed. Both reopened on 6 June
- New York Racing Association – Aqueduct Racetrack winter meeting closed on 19 March. Beginning of Belmont spring meeting deferred to 1 June
- Laurel Park, Maryland – suspended from 20 March, reopened on 22 May
- Fair Grounds, Louisiana – canceled last week of its winter meeting, 22 to 29 March
- Santa Anita Park, California – canceled from 27 March to 14 May. Racing at Golden Gate Fields was suspended on 2 April and resumed on 14 May 
- Churchill Downs, Kentucky – opening of the spring meeting deferred to 16 May.
- Lone Star Park, Texas - from 5 July. Racing resume from 19 July.
- Del Mar Racetrack, California - from 17 to 19 July, after 15 jockeys including Umberto Rispoli are tested positive. Also five jockeys reported positive who left California to Keeneland. Two meetings are rescheduled on 27 July and 31 August.
- Turf Paradise Race Course, Arizona - cancel remaining meetings from 10 March and 2020-21 meeting are canceled.
- Macau Jockey Club – cancelled from 31 January to 15 February and from 28 March to 11 April
- Korea Racing Authority – from 8 March to 16 June.
- Selangor Turf Club, Perak Turf Club and Penang Turf Club, Malaysia – from 14 March. Racing resume on 19 July.
- All Great Britain racecourses – indefinitely from 18 March. Racing resume from 1 June. Wales racing resume from 15 June  Scotland racing resume from 22 June.
- All Irish racecourses – 25 March to 6 June. Racing resume from 8 June.
- All German racecourses – closed from 17 March to 6 May, racing resumed on 7 May.
- All French racecourses France Galop and LeTrot – closed from 17 March to 10 May, resumed racing on 11 May. Racing banned from 20 May to 22 June at Paris and Eastern France.
- All United Arab Emirates race meetings – Including Dubai World Cup Night and four April meetings.
- All New Zealand racecourses – closed from 24 March, planning resume racing form 20 June with limited meeting until new racing season.
- All South African racecourses – closed from 27 March, racing resume from 1 June.
- Singapore Turf Club – closed from 4 April, racing resume on 11 July with limited meeting.
- Mauritius Turf Club - 2020 season opening is delayed. Resume racing on 20 June
- All Italian racecourses - resume racing from 26 May.
- Kawasaki Racecourse - 24 to 26 August and rescheduled on 31 August to 2 September, as one confirmed case on a Funabashi based jockey. Later, a total of six Funabashi jockeys are positive on COVID-19. Funabashi canceled five days of meetings from 29 August to 2 September.
- The Birdsville Races - September in Queensland, Australia were cancelled in 2020. In 2021 they were "rescheduled" to April 2022.
- Meetings that remained open
- Hong Kong Jockey Club – no meeting canceled or rescheduled under COVID-19. Hong Kong Jockey Club members can enter racecourse.
- Japan Racing Association and most of National Association of Racing – no meeting canceled or rescheduled under COVID-19, until 24 August.
- Sweden, including flat racing and harness racing. Elitloppet held at schedule on 31 May.
- Most Australian racecourses – Some County and Picnic meetings are canceled, also Tasmanian racing canceled form 2 April, resume at Mid-June. Also, Victorian Racing and New South Wales Metro racing are canceled by two days, during jockey Mark Zahra taken same flight with one confirm case.
- Some American racecourses, including Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs in Florida, Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, and Fonner Park in Nebraska.
The IIHF Women's World Championship, IIHF World Championship Division IV and Women's Ice Hockey World Championships were all cancelled by the International Ice Hockey Federation due to the coronavirus. The federation also cancelled the 2020 event of one of its two official junior world championship tournaments, the IIHF World U18 Championship. On 21 March, IIHF publicly announced that the senior men's world championships had also been cancelled.
- 2020 IIHF World U18 Championships
- 2020 IIHF World Championships
- 2020 IIHF World Championship Division I
- 2020 IIHF World Championship Division II
- 2020 IIHF World Championship Division III
- 2020 IIHF World Championship Division IV
- 2020 IIHF Women's World Championship
- 2020 IIHF Women's World Championship Division I
- 2020 IIHF Women's World Championship Division II Group A
As a result of the German government's ban on large events, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga announced on 10 March that it would cancel the remainder of its season, marking the first time in the league's history a champion would not be crowned. The top four teams at the time of the cancellation — EHC Red Bull München, Adler Mannheim, Straubing Tigers, and Eisbaren Berlin — would advance to the Champions Hockey League.
The Swedish Ice Hockey Association suspended all remaining hockey, the playoffs and qualification rounds, in the Swedish elite leagues on 15 March; no awarding of the Le Mat Trophy for the 2019/20 season nor transference of teams from the leagues' qualification plays for the 2020/21 season will happen as a result.
Cancelled or ended leagues:
In early March 2020, the National Hockey League suspended media access to the locker rooms, saying that only official personnel would be allowed in after the games to limit person-to-person contact. On 12 March, the NHL, American Hockey League, the leagues of the Canadian Hockey League (Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and Western Hockey League), the USHL, and ECHL announced that their 2019–20 seasons would be indefinitely suspended.
The ECHL announced on 14 March that the remainder of the season would be cancelled. The leagues of the CHL announced on 18 March that they would cancel the remainder of their regular seasons. On 23 March, the CHL confirmed that all playoffs and the 2020 Memorial Cup were cancelled.
Hockey Canada, the governing body for amateur hockey in the country, cancelled the remainder of its season on 12 March. This included national championships such as the Telus Cup and Esso Cup, as well as all regional and provincial playoffs, the Canadian Junior Hockey League playoffs, and the 2020 Centennial Cup.
On 26 May, the NHL and the National Hockey League Players' Association agreed on a basic framework to stage the Stanley Cup playoffs behind closed doors. The seeds would be based on each club's points percentage when the season paused on 12 March; with the 2019–20 season effectively ended on 11 March. The top four seeds in each conference would receive a bye into the playoffs and play in a round robin tournament to determine playoff seeding; while the next eight seeds in each conference would play in a best-of-five series for the remaining playoff seeds. The NHL entered its second phase of "returning to play" on 8 June. On 10 July, the NHL announced that the games for the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs would be hosted in two hub cities, Edmonton, and Toronto. Toronto's Scotiabank Arena hosted games for the Eastern Conference's playoff qualifiers, quarterfinals, and semi-finals; while Edmonton's Rogers Place hosted the same rounds for the Western Conference's, in addition to both conference's finals, as well as the 2020 Stanley Cup Finals. Players that entered the hub city "bubbles" were required to agree to protocols governing how camps operate, and the environment around where games are played, separating the hubs into "secure zones".
From 28 to 31 July 24 NHL teams each played one exhibition game before the Stanley Cup playoff qualifiers began on 1 August. The league conducted over 7,000 tests for COVID-19 during the first week of return-to-play, with the NHL reporting no positive cases. The playoff qualifiers were concluded on 9 August, with the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs beginning the day after. The entire 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs (including the qualifier rounds) were scheduled to last 66 days. Play ended on 28 September in Edmonton, when the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup.
On 20 December 2020, the NHL announced its 2020–21 season would begin on 13 January 2021 and run for 56 games per team, ending on 8 May. To reduce travel, all teams were re-aligned into four geographical divisions, with three consisting exclusively of U.S. teams. Due to ongoing travel restrictions, all seven Canadian teams were placed in a single North Division. In the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the top four teams in each division played each other in the first two rounds, and the four division champions were reseeded based on their regular-season point totals for the semi-final round (which replaced the traditional conference finals). The Canadian government granted a travel exemption for U.S.-based teams for the remainder of the postseason.
The season did not include the Global Series, Winter Classic, Stadium Series, and All-Star Game, which were all postponed by the league. The NHL scheduled two outdoor games at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nevada, which were intended as television showcases with no spectators, to supplant the scrapped special events. In addition, the annual Kraft Hockeyville USA preseason game was postponed by one year; it was eventually rescheduled for 3 October 2021, to be played in El Paso, Texas.
The 2020–21 ECHL season began on 11 December. At first, only 13 of its 24 member teams played, however, the Fort Wayne Komets decided just days before the season started to participate, and indeed ended the season by sweeping the South Carolina Stingrays to win the Kelly Cup. The 2020–21 AHL season began on 5 February, with three teams opting out, six others playing home games in alternate locations, and the two teams based in Ontario not allowed to play home games. There were no playoffs (except in the Pacific Division) and once again no Calder Cup champion was crowned.
Hockey Canada cancelled its national championships for the second season in a row in February 2021, citing that it was "the safest decision given the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic at a local level, as well as the uncertainty around each region being able to compete for a national championship." Due to the second wave, the CJHL's Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), and Superior International Junior Hockey League (SIJHL) cancelled their seasons in 2021, citing uncertainties or a lack of government approval to commence or resume play 
On 13 April 2021, the CHL cancelled the Memorial Cup for the second year in a row, citing "limitations on travel, border restrictions and quarantining requirements that would make it impossible to produce league champions". The game was to be hosted by the OHL, which was unable to play a 2020–21 season at all due to the Ontario stay-at-home order which effectively shut the province down.
The QMJHL and WHL were the only two CHL leagues to go on with play this season; the QMJHL initially took advantage of the "Atlantic Bubble" for its Maritimes division, and was the only CHL league to play a postseason. However, the Maritimes division was disrupted by new health orders and travel restrictions which prevented interprovincial games, and their regular season was halted in mid-April—with all Nova Scotia-based teams becoming ineligible to compete in the playoffs, and the first round consisting of a nine-game round robin between the three New Brunswick-based teams to determine who would play the Charlottetown Islanders for the Maritimes division championship. They would join three Quebec-based teams for the President's Cup semifinals, with all games from then on being played at Videotron Centre in Quebec City. The WHL played a shortened season between divisional opponents (with three divisions aligned to consist exclusively of Alberta, British Columbia, and U.S.-based teams respectively), used hub cities for teams based in British Columbia and the East division (Manitoba and Saskatchewan), and cancelled its playoffs due to interprovincial travel restrictions.
The NCAA officially announced the cancellation of the 2020 College Lacrosse Season on 12 March. Beginning with the Ivy League canceling its season on 11 March, the NCAA followed cancelling all spring season championships. Due to the cancellation of the season, the NCAA voted and approve the allocation of an extra year of eligibility for all of the athletes that missed their spring season.
Major League Lacrosse announced the postponement of the start of the 2020 season on 3 April in a statement from commissioner Alexander Brown. The season was set to begin on 30 May, and then rescheduled to a shortened format from 16 to 26 July with all players and coaches being quarantined. The 6 teams participated in a two-day training camp on 16–17 July, then a shortened season leading to a playoff crowning the Boston Cannons champions on 26 July.
The Premier Lacrosse League announced the postponement of the start of the 2020 season on 10 April. The League announced the modified season that would take place called the PLL Championship Series on 6 May. The series ran from 25 July through 9 August just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah, at Zions Bank Stadium with the teams being quarantined and playing in absence of fans. The 7 teams competed in a 14-game round-robin format to determine the standings for a single elimination tournament. On 9 August, the Whipsnakes Lacrosse Club became the champions of the 2020 PLL Season, defeating Chaos Lacrosse Club with a final score of 12-6 
As of 18 March most casinos and other gaming venues worldwide have been closed indefinitely, and many upcoming live poker tournaments have been either postponed, canceled, or (in jurisdictions where currently permitted) moved to an online platform. Tournaments originally scheduled to be played live are now being played online, including the 2020 Irish Poker Open.
The pandemic has resulted in a massive increase in online poker traffic. It is believed to have directed both professional and recreational players who normally prefer live poker to online platforms due to the indefinite closure of most casinos and other live gaming venues worldwide, with even many unlicensed venues shutting down. In addition, the sudden dearth of live entertainment options due to the widespread disruption of the sports and entertainment schedules around the world is believed to have resulted in more than the usual number of casual players turning to online poker as an alternative. Many operators reported traffic of double or more the previous volume, depending on the time of day.
The 2020 Real Tennis World Championship, scheduled to be held at Prested Hall in Feering, Essex, United Kingdom was postponed on 12 March 2020 to October 2020 due to bans on indoor gatherings and sport and international travel restrictions. The championships were further postponed to May 2021. Additionally, other major tournaments including the 2020 French Open and Champions Trophy were cancelled outright.
The Professional Bull Riders organised its Atlanta event 14–15 March behind closed doors, then initially planned to hold events in Colorado. The organisation shut down and initially planned to hold events in a bubble-type atmosphere at the PBR Performance Center in Pueblo, Colorado, before then planning to resume 2 April at the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Oklahoma. Those events were subsequently postponed and the first of three Lazy E Arena events was held 25–26 April, with a week off before PBR organised two more events at the same venue on consecutive weeks. PBR eventually held a team event at South Point Arena in Las Vegas during June, again behind closed doors, before welcoming spectators back in July at the Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. PBR subsequently cancelled all majors and moved the World Finals to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Four Olympic qualification regattas were cancelled, including the final qualification event scheduled to be held in Lucerne, Switzerland, from 17 to 19 May. All three events of the 2020 World Rowing Cup were also cancelled.
The Australian/New Zealand National Rugby League was scheduled to continue with no spectators permitted in the stadiums; however, the entire season was suspended indefinitely on 23 March 2020. In line with an overall easings of restrictions in Australia, plans were announced which would see the season restarted from approximately 28 May. The NRL season recommenced on 28 May with a round 3 game played in Brisbane between the Brisbane Broncos and Parramatta Eels. The match was played behind closed doors, and became the most-watched regular season NRL game since 2014.
In the northern hemisphere, Super League and the Rugby Football League's Championship and League 1 suspended their seasons until 3 April as a result of the spread of coronavirus. This was later revised to 2 August for Super League, whilst the Championship and League 1 were cancelled. The 2020 Kangaroo tour of England, which was scheduled to include three test matches between England and Australia in October and November, was cancelled on 1 June.
In June 2020, the NRL received approval to begin admitting small amounts of spectators. The 2020 State of Origin series was delayed to November. was played with gradually increasing numbers of spectators. The final game was played at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium with a near-capacity crowd of 49,155 spectators, making it one of the largest-attended sporting events since the onset of the pandemic.
The 2021 Rugby League World Cup was to be played in England in October 2021; on 5 August 2021, it was announced that the tournament would be postponed to 2022 after Australia and New Zealand withdrew.
At the end of February and start of March, the 2020 Six Nations Championship saw all games against Italy postponed due to the worsening situation in that country, with games against the Scotland women's team also cancelled as one of the players tested positive and the team went into isolation. By 13 March, the competition had been suspended  until late October. On 12 March, the Pro14 European rugby competition was suspended  until 22 August.
In the 2020 Super Rugby season, two fixtures of Japanese team Sunwolves had been moved to Australia from Japan, while Australia announced on 12 March that beginning in the next round of fixtures, all matches held in Australia would be played with no spectators, but otherwise continue as normal. However, on 14 March, New Zealand (who fields five teams in the competition) announced that it will require 14 days self-isolation for any person that arrives in the country from outside of the Pacific Islands, regardless of origin and including New Zealand citizens. League organizer SANZAAR stated that it was evaluating the impact of this restriction, and ultimately announced later in the day that the season would be suspended following the completion of the weekend's fixtures.
Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby announced that they would play regional tournaments beginning in July and June respectively — Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Aotearoa — between local teams who play in Super Rugby, to supplant the suspended season. The Sunwolves were prevented from competing in Super Rugby AU by the government. As the club had already planned to exit Super Rugby and cease operations after the 2020 season, it officially disbanded on 1 June 2020.
Super Rugby Aotearoa games were initially held with no spectator restrictions, as New Zealand had lifted most restrictions on 8 June due to there having been no active cases and no new cases in the prior 17 days. Entry restrictions to New Zealand have remained in force throughout. Stadiums remained at full capacity through the first nine weeks of the competition, but a spike in locally transmitted cases led the country to reimpose restrictions on mass gatherings on 11 August, causing one match in the final round to be held behind closed doors and another to be cancelled and scored as a draw.
The South African clubs also staged their own regional league, Super Rugby Unlocked, between its four teams, joined by the Cheetahs from Pro14, and the Griquas and Pumas from the Currie Cup.
Two of the three 2019–20 America's Cup World Series races – scheduled for in Sardinia, Italy in April and Portsmouth, UK in June – were cancelled due to the pandemic. The final event in Auckland, New Zealand in December was run as scheduled.
The 2020 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race which was to begin on 26 December was cancelled due to a local outbreak of COVID in Sydney the week prior. It would be the first time the annual race had been cancelled since its inception in 1945. 100 competitors had originally been expected, later reduced to 75 due to travel and economic restrictions.
On 11 May, the Camanachd Association issued a statement that it had agreed in consultation with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) to cancel the 2020 Shinty-Hurling International Series between Ireland and Scotland, scheduled for October.
Short track speed skating
The 2020 World Short Track Speed Skating Championships in Seoul, South Korea scheduled 13–15 March were canceled. The International Skating Union initially announced they were trying to reschedule the tournament to the beginning of the 2020–21 season but couldn't find a spot in the calendar.
The 2020 Gibraltar Open and its qualifying rounds took place from 11 to 15 March. For the first day, there was a limit of 100 spectators per session. On the remaining days, there were no spectators. A significant number of players withdrew, and there was a shortage of referees, with some early matches played without referees.
The 2020 Tour Championship, originally scheduled for 17 to 22 March, was postponed until 20 to 26 June.
The World Cube Association announced on 19 March that all upcoming speedcubing competitions were to be canceled up to 19 April. This was later extended until 31 May. This included the cancellation of the biennual European and Asian Championships. An estimated 250+ competitions were affected by the pandemic. In addition to the cancellation of various 2020 competitions, the 2021 World Championship was delayed by 5 months to 28–31 December, away from its usual July spot.
For the 2020–21 season, the first four world cups, scheduled to be held in November and December in Poland, Norway, the United States and Canada were cancelled. The world cup schedule was shortened from six to two races with the European Championships, both world cup races and the World Championships all held at the same rink in the Netherlands. The World Championships was originally scheduled to be the Olympic test event in Beijing.
The 2020 World Surf League, which was due to start in Australia on 26 March, was on hold until at least June. The first event of the season, the Corona Open Gold Coast, was canceled, while the second and third events, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach and Margaret River Pro, were postponed. On 17 July it was announced that all but the final 2020 season events in Hawaii would become non-championship events known as the WSL Countdown, starting with the Rumble at the Ranch in Lemoore, California. The December 2020 events in Hawaii, the Maui Pro and Pipe Masters, will start a new wraparound season for 2020–21.
On 12 March 2020, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) canceled all remaining winter and spring championships. The 2020 Division I NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships were scheduled to begin 18 March for women and 25 March for men. The Division III Swimming & Diving Championships were scheduled to start on 18 March, and Division II's event was canceled after just beginning on 11 March.
On 24 March 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo Organising Committee elected to postpone the 2020 Summer Olympics to 2021. The swimming portion of the games were scheduled to take place from 25 July – 6 August 2020.
Seven events on the 2020 ITTF World Tour have also been either cancelled or postponed, including the China Open and the Japan Open. Four Olympic qualifying events, scheduled to be held in April, were also postponed.
When the pandemic was declared, the PBA World Series of Bowling was about to take place at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa in Enterprise, Nevada. The Professional Bowlers Association then decided to advance the WSOB World Championship from 18 March 2020 to 15 March 2020, banning spectator admission. The Animal Pattern Championships were postponed and eventually moved to Centreville, Virginia, to take place in October, while the USA vs. The World match was canceled. The USBC Masters - scheduled for 29 March in Reno, Nevada - and the PBA-PWBA Mixed Doubles competition - scheduled for 5 July in Denver - were also canceled.
The PBA Playoffs were also postponed. The 24-player, single-elimination tournament was scheduled to begin on 6 April in Norco, California, then move on to Lone Tree, Colorado and Euless, Texas before semifinals and finals on 17 May in North Brunswick, New Jersey. The playoffs were rescheduled for 10 and 11 October, with one live telecast followed by a series of delayed broadcasts until 8 November. All rounds were held in Centreville.
The PBA added three exhibition events to its schedule: PBA Strike Derby on 7 June, PBA Summer Clash on 13 June, and King of the Lanes from 20 to 22 July. All competitions occurred in Jupiter, Florida. The Strike Derby and King of the Lanes were scheduled to return in the summer of 2021; both events were held in Portland, Maine in place of PBA League, which was canceled. For those exhibition events, fans were allowed into Bayside Bowl, making these the first spectator events for the PBA since March 2020.
In one of the first major U.S. sport cancellations of the pandemic, the 2020 BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California was postponed on 8 March 2020 as a precautionary measure due to the rising cases in California (the state where it was held), with organizers stating they planned to seek a new date. This would leave out itself to effectively cancel the tournament. On 12 March, Mayor of Miami Carlos A. Giménez ordered the cancellation of the Miami Open pursuant to the state of emergency in Miami-Dade County.
On 12 March, the ATP announced that in response to the aforementioned cancellations among others, they would suspend events for at least six weeks. The International Tennis Federation also suspended play through at least 20 April, and the WTA canceled WTA Tour events through 12 April. On 16 March, the WTA suspended play through 2 May.
On 16 March, the start of the 2020 French Open was postponed from 24 May to 20 September and then to 27 September on 16 June, and the ATP and WTA jointly announced that their suspension of play had been extended through 7 June. On 1 April, Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since World War II, while the ATP and WTA announced that their suspension will be extended through 13 July. On 15 May, the suspension was extended through 3 August.
On 26 June 2020 the ITF announced that the 2020 finals would take place from 22 until 28 November 2021. In addition, 24 World Group I and World Group II ties were postponed to March or September 2021, and the 2020 regional Group III and Group IV events were also postponed to 2021. The 18 nations that had qualified for the finals will keep their standing for next year.
Several exhibition tennis competitions with modified rules emerged in the wake of the pandemic, including the Ultimate Tennis Showdown in Nice, France, and the Adria Tour — an attempted series of tennis events in Southeast Europe organized by world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. The latter received notability for not restricting attendance, and was ultimately halted before the finals of its second leg in Croatia after Grigor Dimitrov tested positive for COVID-19. Multiple players involved — involving Djokovic himself — also contracted the virus.
On 16 April, the United States Tennis Association announced the formation of an advisory group to evaluate whether the US Open would be played, with plans expected to be announced by June. USTA chief Mike Dowse stated that it was "highly unlikely" the tournament would be played behind closed doors, since it was "not really in the spirit of the celebration of tennis, and it also goes back to the health and wellbeing of our players and support staff that help run the tournament". He added that "on one sense we're very fortunate that we are the fourth Grand Slam to go, so time is on our side at this point." The state of New York (which at one point, had more cases than any foreign country worldwide), and especially the tournament's host, New York City, saw the largest initial impact of the pandemic in the United States.
On 16 June 2020 Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that it had authorised the U.S. Open to be played in New York on its original dates, subject to safety protocols developed by the USTA and being closed to spectators. It was also announced that to reduce travel, the preceding Cincinnati Masters (Western & Southern Open) would be re-located to the same venue as the US Open, with both tournaments held over consecutive weeks. The next day, the 2020 Canadian Open (originally scheduled for early-August as one of the first events to be held) was cancelled in full (the women's WTA Premier half of the tournament in Montreal had already been cancelled in April, while the ATP Masters 1000 men's tournament was still tentative), tentatively leaving the WTA International Palermo Ladies Open, and the ATP 500/WTA International Washington Open as the first two post-resumption events. On 21 July, it was announced that the Washington Open had been cancelled. Two days later, the ATP and WTA cancelled all upcoming tournaments in China (including the WTA Finals), in respect of a moratorium by the General Administration of Sport on most international events in the country through the end of 2020. On 4 August, the annual Madrid Open, to be held in Madrid, Spain, was first postponed from the regular May schedule, then initially rescheduled to September, but it was given a complete cancellation due to the resurgence of coronavirus cases in the country.
From mid-August 2020, one case apiece was recorded in connection with tournaments in Prague, Todi, and US Open in New York. Benoît Paire tested positive just prior to the US Open and was withdrawn from the tournament.
The 2021 Australian Open went on with a capacity limit of 30,000 spectators per-day, and all players subject to mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival. Due to a snap lockdown issued by the state of Victoria to control a cluster of community transmission, the tournament went behind closed doors from 11:30 p.m. local time on 12 February (with spectators removed from the last remaining match due to lockdown taking effect at midnight) through 17 February 2021, and returned to 7,477 spectators per-session for the remainder of the tournament. To reduce staff needed on-site, it was the first Grand Slam to use electronic line judging for all matches.
As the country will maintain international entry restrictions through mid-2022, it was reported that organizers were considering the possibility that the 2022 Australian Open may need to be re-located outside of Australia, unless it is able to attain a more flexible quarantine arrangement with the Australian government. The ATP and WTA Auckland Open were cancelled in 2021 and 2022, with organizers similarly citing New Zealand's restrictive quarantine rules as making the tournament logistically impossible.
Affected players and personnel
A number of notable professional tennis players, coaches, or commentators have contracted COVID-19 in 2020 and beyond. Affected players include Altmaier, Andreescu, Anisimova, Badosa, Cerúndolo, Clijsters, Ćorić, Davidovich Fokina, de Minaur, Dimitrov, Djokovic, Escobedo, Evans, Ferro, Fognini, Gauff, Goffin, Halep, van der Hoek, Istomin, Kalinskaya, Kenin, Keys, Khachanov, Kudla, Medvedev, Mektić, Moutet, Murray, Nishikori, Opelka, Paire, Pavić, Pervolarakis, Pouille, Querrey, Rojer, Sabalenka, Sandgren, Seyboth Wild, Soares, Sousa, Tiafoe, Tomova, Troicki, Verdasco, Vondroušová and Yastremska. Also affected were coaches Franco Davín, Christian Groh, Goran Ivanišević, Nicolás Massú, Petar Popović and Alexander Zverev Sr.; in addition to commentator Patrick McEnroe, and ITF vice president Katrina Adams. (Furthermore, some non-notable spouses or coaches of the above returned a positive test for the disease.)
The World Triathlon Executive Board, met via teleconference this Friday morning, has decided to extend the suspension of all activities of the International Federation until 30 June, due to the current situation worldwide with the COVID-19 outbreak. This suspension includes WTS Yokohama, three African (ATU) cups, three American (PATCO) events, four Asian (ASTC) cups, one event in Oceania (OTU) and eight in Europe, (ETU) plus the Yokohama Paratriathlon Series and Paratriathlon World Cup.
On 24 March, the World Flying Disc Federation announced to cancel or postpone all world championships over the next six months. This included the World Ultimate and Guts Championships (WUGC), World Junior Ultimate Championships (WJUC) and the World Masters Ultimate Championships (WMUC) due to the rapid spread of coronavirus. North America's national body for ultimate, USA Ultimate, also canceled all scheduled club and college tournaments as well as the suspension of the semi-professional league, the AUDL, from commencing the 2020 season.
On 13 March, the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) decided to postpone the Nations League for men (finals scheduled for Turin, Italy) and women until after the 2020 Summer Olympics caused by the outbreak of coronavirus. On 8 May, the FIVB announced that the Nations League competitions were cancelled.
The 2020 Women's Water Polo Olympic Qualification Tournament was scheduled to take place in Trieste, Italy, 8–15 March 2020. On 28 February 2020, International Swimming Federation (FINA) announced that the tournament would be postponed to 17–24 May due to the coronavirus outbreak, then it was moved again to 17–24 January 2021 due to the outbreak in the country.
On 12 March, FINA announced that several international water polo tournaments would be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The 2020 Men's Water Polo Olympic Qualification Tournament due to take place in Rotterdam, Netherlands, 22–29 March, would be postponed to 31 May – 7 June, then it was postponed again to 21–28 February 2021. The 2020 FINA Men's Water Polo World League and 2020 FINA Women's Water Polo World League would be postponed to September–October 2020.
2020 Asian Water Polo Championship, the Asian continental qualification for the 2020 Olympic water polo tournament, was scheduled to take place in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, 12–16 February 2020. In late January the event was canceled as the Kazakh Government suspended all flights and visas from China due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak in the country. In mid-February Asia Swimming Federation decided to use the final ranking of the 2018 Asian Games to allocate its continental quotas.
On 28 February 2020, European Swimming League (LEN) announced that the match of 2019–20 LEN Champions League Day 10 between Ferencváros (Hungary) and Pro Recco (Italy), and the match of 2019–20 LEN Euro Cup semifinal between Egri VK (Hungary) and AN Brescia (Italy) would be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
On 11 March 2020, LEN announced that all eight matches of 2019–20 LEN Champions League Day 11, the second leg of the 2019–20 LEN Euro League Women quarter-finals, and the 2020 men's U19 European Championships qualification tournaments would be postponed to later dates due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On 11 March 2020, the USA Water Polo (USAWP) announced that the 2020 ODP Girls National Water Polo Championship would be postponed, and the exhibition matches scheduled to be played on 19–21 March 2020 in California between United States and Spain men's national water polo teams would be canceled.
On 16 March 2020, USAWP announced that the inaugural USA Water Polo Division III Women's National Championship scheduled for 8–10 May 2020 in Southern California would be rescheduled for May 2021; and week three of the 2020 National Water Polo League and the 2020 National League Championship/Fisher Cup would be canceled.
On 16 March 2020, the Water Polo Australia (WPA) announced that the 2020 Australian National Water Polo League would be terminated, the 2020 WPA National Championships scheduled to take place in Adelaide, South Australia in May would be canceled, and the 2020 Open Championships (Country and Masters) scheduled to take place in the Gold Coast, Queensland in May would be postponed.
Impact on administration of sports events
Generally, the shutdown and return of sporting events followed a basic pattern:
- For about two months after mid-March 2020, only a handful of events took place at all. They included (as mentioned above) some association football leagues and horse racing, as well as professional table tennis from Russia and cornhole competitions in the U.S. Also taking place were the 2020 NFL Draft and 2020 WNBA Draft.
- Once sports leagues phased back in, spectators were banned in most instances. The PGA Tour, NASCAR, and INDYCAR allowed residents with residences on venues as spectators from their residential property. In addition, athletes faced rigorous health and safety protocols (including constant testing) and venue access restrictions, and news media access was limited. Television and radio commentators either called games on-site from facilities remodeled for social distancing (mostly with Plexiglas barriers), remotely from studio locations, or remotely from their private residences using technology such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Cisco Webex.
- After a certain period of time - and depending on the jurisdictions in which they operated - limited numbers of fans were allowed back into venues. Talladega Superspeedway on 20 June 2020 was the first to allow paid spectators, as campers were allowed to attend support races, followed by limited grandstands for the feature event. The Texas Rangers was the first major-league pro sports team in North America to allow for full attendance, at the start of their 2021 season. The 2021 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the first top-level motorsport event to allow full spectator capacity. On 3 June 2021, the U.S. Women's Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco was the first top-flight women's golf tournament to allow fans since the pandemic was declared, even as the LPGA Tour had still not finalized plans for attendance at any of its organized events.
- As more vaccinations occurred, sports organizations began to relax their health and safety protocols. For example, NASCAR team members and pit-road media reporters were no longer required to wear face coverings (in most instances) as of the inaugural race weekend at Circuit of the Americas; they were also not tested for the virus as often as before. The same policy changes took effect for various teams in other sports, as long as a certain percentage of personnel were fully vaccinated.
Several sanctioning bodies adopted rules changes:
- The NBA announced just before the 2019–20 season restarted in the bubble that any team within 3½ games of eighth place in their respective conferences after the seeding games would participate in a one-game playoff to determine the eighth seed. That game was necessary in the Western Conference, and there the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies. The NBA then announced that, for the 2020–21 season (and presumably every season thereafter), a Page-McIntyre System playoff would be used to determine the seventh and eighth seeds.
- Major League Baseball, in its shortened 2020 season, instituted five major changes, of which these three carried over into 2021:
- The rule for suspended games implemented since 2008 for postseason games is now in effect during the regular season. Once a game starts, if it is called because of weather, it will not be wiped out, and will resume from point of interruption.
- All doubleheader games were abbreviated from nine scheduled innings to seven (a rule used in amateur play and Minor League Baseball), if the first game is a makeup of a completely rained out game (not a suspended game), the second game is seven innings. Suspended games may be determined on a case-by-case basis (such as tie game in extra innings when suspended).
- If a game was tied heading into extra innings (10th inning for single games or 8th inning for games as parts of doubleheaders), each new inning began with a runner on second base (a rule in place for international WBSC play).
- MLB also extended the designated hitter rule to the National League for the first time, and expanded the playoff field from 10 teams to 16 (and in the process modified the annual Wild Card Game to best-of-three series). However, these were not brought back the following season.
- FIFA increased the number of allowable substitutes for association football games from three to five.
Impact on sports venue workers
The novel coronavirus pandemic has resulted in economic losses for workers who struggled to make a living during these times. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, teams were eager to start playing again, but they needed the support of the workers who provide a comfortable and adequate place for them to play. Globally, since the new norm in 2020 is social distancing, the most important step was to figure out how to survive financially, especially for the stadium workers who could not afford the time it takes to stimulate a new bill to address these and provide for these personal issues.
The Miami Heat basketball team has announced that they will be committed to help their stadium workers survive financially by paying them immediately instead of waiting for a check to come in, because the wait would have had a severe financial detrimental effect to each individual worker. Heat owner Micky Arison has announced that he pledged to donate $1 million to provide for the Miami community because of the immense impact that COVID-19 has had on the financial-compromised community.
- List of events affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
- Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on religion
- Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on television
- Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education
- At the time of announcement, 13 schools were CCAA members, but the only one of these schools that was not a CSU campus, UC San Diego, joined the Division I Big West Conference on 1 July 2020.
- The NCAA considers swimming and diving to be a single sport.
- The NCAA considers indoor and outdoor track & field to be two separate sports. It holds indoor championships in its winter season and outdoor championships in its spring season.
- Unlike most schools that dropped teams due to the pandemic, Chicago State saw no change in its total number of sports sponsored, as the school also announced the immediate addition of men's soccer.
- While men and women both compete in US college rowing, the NCAA governs only women's heavyweight rowing.
- While men and women both compete in college bowling, specifically ten-pin bowling, the NCAA governs only women's competition.
- Before the 2020–21 school year, wrestling was an NCAA-recognized sport only for men. In that school year, women's wrestling received NCAA recognition as part of its Emerging Sports for Women program.
- The NCAA considers skiing a coeducational team sport. Most NCAA skiing schools field both men's and women's squads, and all races involve members of a single sex.
- Fencing is a coeducational sport, with most NCAA fencing schools fielding men's and women's squads and all bouts involving members of the same sex.
- NCAA field hockey is a women's sport.
- Organisers noted a continuing ban on events in Fulton County as the reason to move the event to a closed-course motorsport venue that is not on public roads.
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They are still awaiting the authorisation of the new date from the UCI.
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Sadly, this means that our races will not go ahead [...] We hope to be back next year.
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We besluiten bij deze om onze wedstrijd Driedaagse Brugge De Panne ook uit te stellen naar een later tijdstip. We hopen dat we een plaatsje krijgen op de kalender in het najaar. [We hereby decide to postpone our match Three Days Bruges De Panne to a later date. We hope that we will have a place on the calendar in the autumn].
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In het wielrennen worden Nokere Koerse (18 maart), de Bredene Koksijde Classic (20 maart), de Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne (25 maart), de E3 Harelbeke (27 maart), Gent-Wevelgem (29 maart) en Dwars door Vlaanderen (1 april) geschrapt. [In cycling Nokere Koerse (March 18), the Bredene Koksijde Classic (March 20), the Driedaagse Brugge-De Panne (March 25), the E3 Harelbeke (March 27), Ghent-Wevelgem (March 29) and Dwars door Vlaanderen (April 1) are scrapped.]
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