The Coronavirus has played spoilsport in more areas than one this season. So it was always only a matter of time before it would disrupt the flow of numerous sports competitions across continents, breaking the hearts of millions of sports fans. With a non-existent social life, rising political tensions in many nations and a spiralling down economy, people desperately needed a momentary escape at times, which is so often provided by a weekend football match or an IPL game in the evening. So the lack of any sporting action only added to the woes and suffering of a terrible terrible 2020.
But international sporting events are synonymous with athletes of multiple nationalities coming together to play in the same competition, often at humongous stadiums jam-packed with thousands of passionate supporters trying to catch a glimpse of their favourite superstars. So, occasions such as these can easily become a hotbed for the transmission of the deadly coronavirus. Taking that into consideration, countless sporting events were called off indefinitely in March and April.
But with time, the situation improved in many western countries. Along with that, we have come up with better precautionary practices and protective devices to stop the rapid spread of the deadly virus. This has created an environment for many of our beloved sporting competitions to resume, albeit under locked doors, with not a single fan being allowed to enter the stadium or arena. The site of eerily empty and quiet stadiums which are generally found rocking with thousands of noisy fans was amongst the many astonishing sights of the post COVID world.
Nevertheless, it is good news for sports fans at home, as more and more competitions across the world seem to be returning. Let’s take a lot at these popular sports competitions and their revised schedules after the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic-
1. Tokyo Olympic Games 2020
Original Schedule- July 24-August 9, 2020
Revised Schedule- July 23-August 8, 2021
The biggest sporting spectacle on the planet, the Olympic Games had to bow down to a Global pandemic this year. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have already been postponed to take place in 2021, while the Paralympic Games will now take place from August 24 to September 5, 2021. The Olympic games in 2021 will happen from July 23 to August 8 in 2021. Interestingly, as a result, the World Athletic Championships which was originally supposed to take place in 2021 has been shifted to July 14- July 24, 2022, just narrowly avoiding a clash of dates with the Commonwealth Games which will kick off from July 27, 2022
2. UEFA EURO 2020
Original Schedule- June 11, 2020-July 11, 2020
Revised Schedule- June 11, 2021-July 11, 2021
When it comes to international football tournaments, European Championship is right up there after the great FIFA World Cup itself. While this year we were all eagerly waiting to see the Ronaldos and Hazards fight it out in a revamped competition featuring 24 nations for the first time, we will just have to wait another year. The 2016 winners Portugal can hold onto the title of European champions for now.
3. CONMEBOL Copa America 2020
Original Schedule- June 12, 2020 – July 12, 2020
Revised Schedule- June 11, 2021 – July 11, 2021
The EURO was not the only international football tournament to suffer because of the Covid-19 situation. Messi and Neymar too won’t be able to don their national jerseys in a quest to bring glory to their country this year. This 12 team tournament which was supposed to take place in Argentina and Colombia has been shifted to 2021 Summer as well. This comes as a double blow to football fans who must have been rejoicing about the prospect of two major international tournaments in the same year and suddenly now they have none.
4. IPL 2020
Original Schedule- March 29-May 17
Revised Schedule- Yet to be announced
Indian summers are incomplete without the Great Indian Cricket Carnival or the Indian Premier League. Indian team supporters get divided into groups of Mumbaikers and Chennaiyins as we get back to back thrilling T20 matches for a stretch of almost two months. The writing was always on the wall this year that the worsening Covid-19 situation in the country will spell disaster for the cricket lovers. The tournament was initially postponed from March 29 to April 15. But by April 15, India was under a nationwide lockdown and BCCI declared that the competition will be postponed indefinitely. Recently, there are some reports that a September-October IPL might just become a reality. But as of now, there has not been any official announcement.
5. ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup
Original Schedule- October 18–November 15
Revised Schedule- Yet to be announced
As a cloud of uncertainty looms over one beloved domestic Twenty20 competition, it is not looking exactly sunny for the most highly anticipated international 20 over tournament either. The 7th edition of the T20 world cup was supposed to be hosted by Australia in October-November. But Australian Newspaper The Daily Telegraph has reported that the tournament is set to be officially postponed mainly due to logistical reasons. This opens up a great window of opportunity for BCCI to host the IPL if ICC goes ahead with the decision to postpone the tournament in Australia. But with the worsening Covid-19 situation in India, some reports suggest the IPL is most likely to be held in UAE or Sri Lanka. So as it seems, cricket fans might have to sacrifice one great tournament for another this season.
6. English Premier League
Last game before the break- March 10
Date of Return- June 17
Liverpool were all poised to lift their maiden English Premier League title when the COVID-19 pandemic situation brought the 2019-2020 EPL season to an unceremonious halt in March. After Leicester’s 4-0 thumping of Aston Villa on March 10, it took 3 months for the most-watched domestic football league in the world to return, The wait must have been especially long for a Liverpool fan as the league resumed on June 17 with an Aston Villa vs Sheffield United match. In true premier league fashion, Liverpool eventually became the Champions on June 26 when Chelsea beat Man City 2-1 making it mathematically impossible for the citizens to overtake the Reds. Along with the Premier League, other domestic leagues across Europe have also returned now. German top-flight league Bundesliga was the first to return on May 16. The Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A have also made their comebacks on June 11 and June 13 respectively.
7. FA Cup
Last game before the break- March 6
Date of Return- June 30
The oldest and the most prestigious cup football competition in the world has already resumed on June 27 with the quarterfinals taking place. The semifinals will have mouthwatering ties between Arsenal and Machester City in one match and Manchester United and Chelsea in the other. The matches will be held on Sunday, July 19 with the all-important final taking place on August 1.
8. UEFA Champions League
Last game before the break- March 11
Date of Return- August 7
Just like its domestic counterparts, the biggest club competition on the planet was also postponed until further notice on April 1. The tournament was in the Round of 16 stages then, with 4 teams already through to the quarterfinals. On June 18, UEFA declared that the competition will resume in August. After the rest of the RO16 ties have been decided, the UCL quarterfinals, semifinals and final will be played in the fashion of a straight knockout tournament in Lisbon from Aug 12-Aug 23. All these ties will be single-leg ties. Similarly, the UEFA Europa League will be played out in the same format in Germany from Aug 10-Aug 21.
9. Formula one season
Planned Start to the Season- March 15
Actual Start to the season- July 5
After almost a 4 month delay, the F1 2020 season finally started on July 5 in Austria with Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas first to the chequered flag. The new calendar has only been declared up to September 6, with only 8 races planned; all supposed to take place in European countries. But it is expected that the rest of the schedule with 16 or 18 total races will be announced in chunks in the upcoming months. Hamilton and Vettel fans will finally have something to look forward to after this long wait. The originally scheduled first race of the 2020 season was cancelled back in March, amidst fears of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
10. Wimbledon Open
Original Schedule- June 29-July 12
Revised Schedule- Cancelled.
Like most other sports, the pandemic has messed up the tennis calendar real bad this year as well. Sadly for the fans out there, the Wimbledon Open has now been cancelled for the first time since WWII. The French Open, another Grand slam, has also been postponed to a later date. The tournament in Roland Garros will now take place between 20 Sep 2020 – 4 Oct 2020. But on the bright side, the US open is probably going to happen very soon as the tournament is scheduled to start on August 31 and finish on September 13
11. Pro Kabaddi League
Original Schedule- June 15-September 1
Revised Schedule- Yet to be announced
Kabaddi is an indigenous sport of India. So it is no surprise that the premier domestic Kabaddi league in the country, known as the Pro Kabaddi League, enjoys immense popularity in the country. The PKL Season 8 was scheduled to start from June this season with the auctions taking place in April. But as of now, it is still postponed indefinitely. A hopeful Charu Sharma, (co-founder of the league) said that if there is a dramatic improvement of the COVID scene in India, the tournament could still be held this year. Otherwise, like the fate of so many competitions on this list, it will be shifted to 2021.
Last event before the break- March 15
Date of Return- May 9
The popular Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) competition UFC, was the first major sports to return in the USA after a 2-month absence of any kind of sporting action, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The UFC 249 event was played on May 9, behind closed doors, with Justin Gaethje defeating Tony Ferguson in the main event. The next UFC event UFC 251 will take place next Saturday on July 12.
13. Badminton- BWF 2020 Season
Last game before the break- March 15
Date of Return- August 11
After International Badminton was frozen since Mid-March with the calendar scraped off, the badminton fans can now finally get their hopes up. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) came out with a revamped calendar for 2020 on May 22, with a whopping 21 events scheduled to happen in only 5 months. The season was supposed to start with Hyderabad open on August 11 (which was called off in June along with the Lingshui China Masters supposed to happen in late August). So as of now, all the tournaments in the new calendar has failed to materialize. Fans will be hopefully looking at the Taiwan Open ( Sep 1-Sep 6), which according to reports is still good to go. The revised yearly calendar ends with the World tour finals in Guangzhou, China on Dec 20. The crucial Olympic-qualifying tournament India Open which was cancelled in March is now scheduled to be held from December 8 to 13 in New Delhi.
14. The London Marathon
Original Schedule- April 26
Revised Schedule- October 4
One of the most eagerly anticipated long-distance running events of the year, the London Marathon, was postponed this year due to the Coronavirus scare. Amateurs and professional runners across the globe wait for this event with bated breath. In the wake of Covid-19, the 123-year-old Boston Marathon, another high profile running event has already been cancelled. A Marathon poses an entirely different level of challenge in terms of social distancing and limiting the number of people in one place. So it is highly unlikely that this event will take place.
Last game before the break- March 11
Date of Return- July 30
NBA is undoubtedly the most popular among the big four American sports leagues in India. The NBA season went on a break on March 11 due to the COVID-19 situation. But on June 25, it was finalized that the tournament will make a comeback on July 30. The rest of the American big leagues have also declared their return dates with Major League Baseball (MLB), National Hockey League (NHL) and National Football League ( NFL) all scheduled to resume on July 23 or 24, August 1 and September 10 respectively.