UEFA, football’s European governing body, has formally announced that it has postponed the finals of its Champions League, Europa League and Women’s Champions League competitions, which had been scheduled for May.
The decision has been taken as the coronavirus pandemic continues to have an impact on sport around the world, with it currently unclear when UEFA will be able to resume its club competitions. The body has already been forced to postpone Euro 2020, its showpiece national team tournament, until next summer.
UEFA said that no decision has been made yet on the rearranged dates for the finals of its club competitions. Istanbul’s Atatürk Olympic Stadium (pictured) is due to host the Champions League final, while the Stadion Energa Gdańsk in Poland is scheduled to stage the Europa League final. The final of the Women’s Champions League is due to take place at Viola Park in Vienna.
The coronavirus pandemic stopped UEFA’s club competitions in their tracks, with four round of 16 Champions League matches yet to be completed and only six of the eight first-leg round of 16 Europa League games having been played. It remains to be seen when matches can resume but UEFA has expressed a wish to complete the season by the end of June.
UEFA last week established a working group following a call with European football stakeholders and the group will now analyse the options available.
Elsewhere, Football Federation Australia has moved to postpone the final rounds of the A-League domestic club competition, effective immediately. The decision means that all top-level sport in Australia has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
FFA will review the situation over the coming weeks before making a further formal status assessment on April 22. It is hoped that games can be rescheduled “as soon as it is reasonably possible to do so” as FFA looks to complete the A-League season.
FFA chief executive James Johnson said: “Our priority is to ensure the safety of both the football community and the community at large. As each passing day raises additional concerns for the safety of both, it is imperative that we follow the lead of Governments at National and State level and take the necessary precautionary and proactive measures and in doing so play our part in preventing the spread and impact of Covid-19.”
The A-League had been continuing behind closed doors at the weekend but FFA’s announcement today (Tuesday) follows the suspension of the National Rugby League (NRL) and Australian Football League (AFL).
England’s Premiership Rugby is also weighing up its options to complete its season, with chief executive Darren Childs considering playing matches behind closed doors at one venue.
“Our number one priority is to find a way to play,” Childs said, according to BBC Sport. “We want to get this season finished, and if that means playing over the summer, then we will do that, as long as it is safe to do so. We won’t take any risks about anyone’s health and welfare.
“Rugby does make an impact on medical staff and hospitals because of the nature of it, and that is an absolute priority for us to make sure we are not taking any of those resources away.”
Childs added: “We are all working to try and hopefully be the first sport back on television, whether that is in a closed stadium or an open stadium. There is no reason why we couldn’t play four games over a weekend in a single stadium.
“To be able to concentrate things in one area, certainly if it is a closed-door game, means we can be sensible about trying to reduce the impact on the TV operations, the crews and the filming by compressing it into one venue.”
The Premiership season has been suspended until April 24 at the earliest and the league still needs to complete nine more rounds and hold its end-of-season play-offs.
Meanwhile, next year’s World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon may be moved to a new date after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed on Sunday that it is considering postponing this summer’s Tokyo Olympics until 2021.
The Championships are scheduled to take place from August 6-15, 2021 and there are plans for the event to be held at a transformed Hayward Field.
The Reuters news agency has reported that World Athletics has agreed to change the dates of the event should Tokyo 2020 be postponed until next year.
In a statement reported by Reuters, World Athletics said: “World Athletics has already been in discussion with the Oregon 21 Organising Committee regarding the possibility the Olympic Games may move to next year.”
The organising committee said that it is “aware of the possibility” of potential date changes for the event.
Sporting events around the world have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic and Reuters has compiled a list of all competitions affected.
Image: Валерий Дед