Coronavirus halts multiple sports in China

Barry Whelan
Wuhan Zall are training in Spain as the Chinese Super League start is delayed due to coronavirus

China has postponed the start of its domestic football season because of the outbreak of the coronavirus, which has killed at least 170 people.

Motor sport authorities meanwhile say they are "closely monitoring" the outbreak, which could lead to the scrapping of Formula One's Chinese Grand Prix in April.

Several sports events have already been postponed or moved following the outbreak of the virus.

Chinese football's Super League was due to run from February 22 to October 31.

A new starting date for the season has not yet been announced.

The Asian Football Confederation has also said all four Chinese clubs will initially play three away games in their Asian Champions League group matches.

The confederation is closely monitoring the situation before deciding on rounds four to six, a statement said.

The international motorsport federation FIA said it would "take any action" to protect the sport and the public.

The 2020 Formula One season begins with the Australian Grand Prix on March 15, with the Chinese Grand Prix Shanghai set for April 17-19.

FIA is "closely monitoring the evolving situation" with relevant authorities and its member clubs, under the direction of its medical commission, president Gerard Saillant said in a statement.

World Cup alpine skiing races to test Yanqing's slopes ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics were cancelled, while the world indoor athletics championship in Nanjing have been postponed until March 2021.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualifying tournaments in women's football, basketball and boxing have been moved outside China.

The Chinese women's football squad has meanwhile been placed in quarantine in Brisbane, Australia after arriving for the Olympic qualifiers to be held in Sydney from February 3 to 9.

All team members passed a screening for the coronavirus at the Suzhou Centre for Disease Control and Prevention before leaving for Australia, the Chinese Football Association said in a statement.

The team has been placed in isolation at their hotel but all players and staff are in good health. The team have been asked to remain in their hotel until February 5.

"The team understands the concern of the Queensland government, the media and local people over the risk of coronavirus affection and will work closely with all stakeholders to fulfil all quarantine requirements," the Chinese FA said.

In Germany, all Chinese table tennis international players at an event in Magdeburg have been intensively examined before and during the trip, the sport's international federation said at the venue in eastern Germany.

"The ITTF worked closely with the Chinese team to ensure their safety and that of other players. The Chinese team also has to follow strict government regulations," ITTF marketing director Matthew Pound said.

The dominant nation in table tennis has 14 players at the German Open, part of the World Tour series, which runs until Sunday.

It is thought highly unlikely any of the players would have been infected because the entire Chinese national team had been at a training centre in Beijing for several weeks before they left for Germany.

The Chinese capital is around 1100km from Wuhan, the locked-down city where the virus was first detected.