Empty Stadiums, Empty Hopes

A review of how professional sports around the world and in the U.S. brace for impact amid the coronavirus outbreaks.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

As the coronavirus takes the world by storm, an increasing number of sports institutions are postponing or cancelling events daily. Organizers of major sporting events are cautiously watching the spread of the virus, constantly considering the difficult decision of cancellation due to the consequences of holding massive gatherings. Not only are these events dangerous for fans, but athletes are also getting infected globally.

Sports have long been a means of comfort in times of distress. Fans can always be reassured that they can grab a snack, relax on their couch, and watch their favorite football or basketball team win (or lose, in New York’s case). Whether it’s pitting Lebron James against Michael Jordan, discussing brackets for March Madness at lunch, or recalling legendary highlights with friends, sports constantly brighten our everyday lives.

Even disregarding how a lack of sports warps the lives of fans who rely on them for entertainment or solace, it’s impossible to neglect the huge impact that their absence has on entire industries. Sports provide thousands of jobs: workers at stadiums, vendors, team employees, camera operators running the wire, and businesses that rely on stadiums’ attraction of fans will all be devastated from a prolonged pause in the sports world.

Now one might think, it can’t be that bad, can it? Here are the postponed or cancelled sports events in major sports so far, along with which specific athletes have been tested positive for the coronavirus.


The English Premier League faced great pressure to suspend matches after Mikel Arteta, manager of Arsenal, and 19-year-old Chelsea FC star Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for coronavirus. Scotland and the Premier League have recently suspended multiple matches: all games in the top divisions are postponed until April 3. Infected players in the league have led Arsenal, Chelsea, and Everton to quarantine their squad.

Nearly every professional European league has been suspended. Ligue 1, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, and Russian Premier League have all postponed upcoming matches.

Major tournaments have also been affected. UEFA Champions League and Europa League games have been disrupted and suspended indefinitely. Champions League’s Round of 16-second-leg fixtures were scheduled for mid-March and have thus been moved until a later date.

As the coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, most Asian leagues were suspended a few weeks ago. In North America, Major League Soccer and Liga MX have been suspended as well.

Some leagues in South America, Africa, and Australia have not yet been canceled, however. Though these are not the top leagues in the world, there is still soccer for fans to watch.


Halfway through the first game of the Big East tournament quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden, the event was canceled. Nearly every college conference tournament followed the same fate. National basketball tournaments were dropped, and all college championships were canceled, including the ACC tournament and NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournament, the men’s tournament being one of the biggest sporting events all year. The NCAA gained $1.1 billion in its last fiscal year, most of which sourced from televising major events. The money flowing in from these events, such as the NCAA basketball tournament, funds other sports programs at various campuses throughout the country. Without it, other college sports will not have enough funding to be maintained.

In terms of the NBA, Rudy Gobert from Utah Jazz poked fun at the coronavirus during a press conference by touching reporters’ microphones and recording devices. In an ironic twist, Gobert tested positive for the virus in the following days. A few minutes after Gobert was confirmed to have the virus, commissioner Adam Silver was forced to instill a hiatus in the NBA, one that will last at least 30 days. Since then, Donovan Mitchell, another Jazz player, was the second NBA player tested positive. Kevin Durant and three others on the Brooklyn Nets have tested positive, along with Christian Wood of the Detroit Pistons. Silver also stated that it is possible that the rest of the season would be canceled. Various NBA teams have placed players and staff members under self-quarantine as a precaution.

Outside of the U.S., the Euroleague, the top basketball league in Europe, suspended all of its games until April 11.


The coronavirus has not yet had a great impact on the NFL. The annual owners’ meeting in Florida was canceled, and its agenda will be covered in their meeting in late May. This meeting brings managers, owners, coaches, and hundreds of news media members together. So far, there has been no discussion of changes for the NFL draft, set for late April in Las Vegas. The XFL has also suspended its games halfway through its first season.


Major League Baseball canceled all spring training games, which would have continued until the end of March, and postponed the beginning of its regular season, which was scheduled for March 26, by at least two weeks. All teams were given the option to return to their hometowns. Only the Yankees decided to stay put.

Additionally, two cases have been confirmed in the MLB: two minor league players in the Yankees’ farm system. Their names have not been announced.


Following the cancellation of the BNP Paribas Open (Indian Wells) in California, the Miami Open has been canceled. The Miami Open is one of the top U.S. tennis tournaments. The Fed Cup finals have been postponed, and men’s tennis tour events were suspended for six weeks. The French Open has also been postponed to September.


The NHL stopped its season, with no specification on when it will continue. The Stanley Cup playoffs are scheduled to start in April, but will likely be postponed to a later date.


Numerous marathons around the globe have been pushed or canceled. The New York City Half Marathon was canceled; the Boston Marathon has been pushed to September; the London Marathon, Paris Marathon, and Barcelona Marathon were pushed to October; and the Rome Marathon has been canceled due to an especially large number of cases in Italy.


Though the organizing committee for the Games are discussing postponing the event, the Olympic Games are on track to begin in mid-summer. Greece held the Olympic flame lighting ceremony with no viewers, and the torch relay was suspended after unexpected large crowds of spectators arrived at the event. The summer Olympics have only been cancelled in times of World War, during 1916, 1940, and 1944.

There has been a lot of uncertainty revolving around the sports world with the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Cancelled tournaments and league matches are disrupting revenue and have already left a huge mark on the economic standing of sports brands. Stadiums and arenas are empty around the world, and event organizers are struggling to keep their players and fans safe and healthy.

Here is a list of sports figures who have tested positive for the coronavirus:

Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz

Christian Wood, Detroit Pistons

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

Mikel Arteta, Arsenal Manager

Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea FC

Daniele Rugani, Juventus

German Pezzella, Fiorentina

Patrick Cutrone, Fiorentina

Dusan Vlahovic, Fiorentina

Timo Hubers, Hannover

Hyun-Jun Suk, Troyes

Luca Kilian, Paderborn

Amedeo Baldari, UC Sampdoria

Omar Colley, UC Sampdoria

Albin Ekdal, UC Sampdoria

Manolo Gabbiadini, UC Sampdoria

Antonino La Gumina, UC Sampdoria

Morten Thorsby, UC Sampdoria

Fabio Depaoli, UC Sampdoria

Trey Thompkins, Real Madrid