Health and Healthcare Systems

Coronavirus – NBA, James Bond, and other events hit by the outbreak

Feb 24, 2020; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) protects the ball from Phoenix Suns center Aron Baynes (46) during the third quarter at Vivint Smart Home Arena. The Suns won 131-111. Mandatory Credit: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports - 14092919

Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for COV-!9. Image: Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Fleming
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This article was updated on 12 March 2020.

  • NBA halts all US professional basketball games.`
  • Cancelling Olympics 'unthinkable' Tokyo governor says.
  • New Bond movie delayed by seven months.

US professional basketball became the latest victim of COVID-19 as the National Basketball Association (NBA) suspended all matches until further notice after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus.

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The pandemic also led to the cancellation of the figure-skating world championships and the announcement that college basketball’s annual ‘March Madness’ tournament would take place without fans in attendance.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James tweeted: “What we really need to cancel is 2020! Damn it’s been a rough 3 months."

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The governor of Tokyo, which is due to host the Olympic Games from July 24 to Aug. 9, said the event would go ahead, even if some changes might have to be made.

“It can’t be said that the announcement of a pandemic would have no impact. . . . But I think cancellation is unthinkable,” Koike told reporters.

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The Olympic flame lighting ceremony went ahead on 12 March, but, for the first time since 1984, without spectators. Only a few dozen accredited officials were allowed to watch the lighting in Ancient Olympia.

The Games have only ever been cancelled on three occasions – the wartime years of 1916, 1940, and 1944. Even if the Games go ahead, the possibility remains that some countries may decide not to participate, or that individual athletes might stay away. And it seems likely that there would be restrictions on crowds.

With cinema attendance down, and movie theatres forced to close in some countries, the makers of the new James Bond film, No Time to Die, postponed its release date from 31 March until November.

The last Bond film, 2015’s Spectre, took $880m at the box office. Cumulatively, it’s thought the outbreak could cost the global movie industry as much as $5 billion.

Olympics - Lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame for Tokyo 2020 - Ancient Olympia, Olympia, Greece - March 12, 2020  Japanese former marathon runner Noguchi Mizuki and president of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee Toshiaki Endo pose for a picture following the Olympic flame lighting ceremony for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics  REUTERS/Costas Baltas - RC2CIF979IMQ
Only a handful of officials watched the Olympic flame lighting. Image: REUTERS/Costas Baltas

Expos and conventions

In Switzerland, the Geneva Motor Show – which was anticipating 600,000 visitors and a host of hotly anticipated launches across its eight days – was parked.The London Book Fair, one of the largest events in the publishing world, was also called off.

Football

In Italy, football matches continue to be played – but behind closed doors. Spectators will not be allowed back inside the grounds until at least 3 April, and some matches have been postponed to later in the season. The English Premier League was likely to follow suit, according to The Times newspaper. Switzerland suspended its top two football leagues,.

Museums and attractions

A number of major tourist attractions and cultural events have also been cancelled, closed, or postponed.

Disney has shut several of its sites in Asia, including Shanghai Disney Resort, Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. And a number of Japan’s highly popular cherry blossom events have been closed, including Tokyo's Nakameguro Cherry Blossom Festival.

In South Korea, guided tours of the historic Gyeongbokgung Palace have been suspended until further notice.

Milan’s la Scala opera house suspended all performances, even before the country went into lockdown - effectively closing all cultural spaces. In Paris, the Louvre Museum, which had almost 10 million visitors last year, was temporarily closed. Across France, all indoor events with more than 5,000 attendees have been banned.

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