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Euro 2020 postponement possible as pandemic shuts down more sports

The outbreak has decimated the sporting schedule and left major doubts over some of 2020’s biggest events.

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A view of an LED sign informing fans that the game is off outside the London Stadium, home of West Ham United (Steven Paston/PA)

A view of an LED sign informing fans that the game is off outside the London Stadium, home of West Ham United (Steven Paston/PA)

A view of an LED sign informing fans that the game is off outside the London Stadium, home of West Ham United (Steven Paston/PA)

The Italian Football Federation will ask UEFA to postpone Euro 2020 on Tuesday as more sports prepare to shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Rugby union’s Gallagher Premiership is set to be suspended, the PA news agency understands, with Super League likely to follow suit and horse racing in Britain set to move behind closed doors this week.

Officials from all three sports were meeting on Monday to consider their options as the outbreak continued to decimate the sporting landscape.

UEFA will host an emergency meeting on Tuesday to discuss whether the Champions League, the Europa League and Euro 2020 can be played after domestic leagues in most of Europe shut down.

And on Sunday, Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina told Sportsmediaset: “We will propose that UEFA postpone the European Championship.

“We will try to get to the end of this championship (Serie A) because it is fairer and more correct after the many investments and sacrifices of our clubs.”

Officials from the Gallagher Premiership clubs are expected to preempt government advice and postpone the season until further notice.

Super League clubs due to meet in Huddersfield on Monday were already considering their options before news broke late on Sunday evening that Toronto Wolfpack have suspended training and stood down their entire UK-based staff after four players experienced symptoms of coronavirus.

The Canadian club’s action means that their next fixture against Wakefield next weekend will almost certainly be postponed and is set to signal a potential shutdown of the league.

A statement from the club read: “We train in an environment where we interact with students and members of the public and we vehemently do not want to act as a possible vector for COVID-19 which is why we have taken this immediate action.

“The health and welfare of our players, staff, fans and partners is always our primary concern.”

Castleford Tigers
A Castleford Tigers programme seller wearing surgical gloves before the Betfred Super League match at The Mend-A-Hose Jungle, Castleford (Richard Sellers/PA)

St Helens coach Kristian Woolf called on Super League and the Rugby
Football League to make a clear decision on whether the competition will be shut down following his side’s defeat to Castleford.

“We can’t go week to week wondering what’s going on,” Woolf said. “We need a really good, strong decision and then we can all crack on and figure out what we have to do with it.”

Castleford coach Daryl Powell added: “It’s pretty tough at the moment. There’s an eerie feeling around everywhere. It will be the same for everybody, it will be difficult.

“We have to try and found a way of managing it best that we can. Nobody knows where it’s going to take us over the next weeks and months.”

Racing in Britain is set to move behind closed doors later in the week, initially until the end of March.

The Cheltenham Festival took place as scheduled last week, but fixtures in Ireland were closed to the public from Friday evening and it is a similar situation in Scotland following guidance from the Irish and Scottish governments regarding the banning of mass gatherings of more than 500 people.

Aintree’s three-day Grand National meeting is due to take place on April 2-4 and the British Horseracing Authority said: “The UK Government has also been briefed on the issues involved in staging the Randox Health Grand National. A decision will be announced as soon as possible.”

The remainder of the Boxing Road to Tokyo Olympic qualifying event at the Copper Box Arena will take place behind closed doors due to “the changing situation with Coronavirus and concerns for public, athlete and volunteer welfare,” the IOC Boxing Task Force has said.

The event started on Saturday and is scheduled to run until March 24.

PA