Guide to when the world’s major sports will restart
The big question for sports fans and punters alike is when will most professional sports be back? With the world in hibernation because of the COVID-19 pandemic many people are looking to live sports to resume on our TV screens to offer a distraction from the death and destruction the coronavirus has caused.
Table tennis and some obscure soccer leagues were some one of the only major betting sports to continue through the crisis, while horse racing in places such as Australia and Hong Kong has barely skipped a beat, although all meetings were conducted behind closed doors.
What is the first major sport to resume amid COVID-19 pandemic?
The Bundesliga, Germany’s national football league, is to become the first major European league to resume, on Saturday, May 16. South Korean baseball (KBO League) and football (K League) have resumed behind closed doors, with the baseball back on May 6 and the K League on May 8.
The German and South Korean football and baseball leagues are sure to attract enormous interest for sports-starved fans and gamblers worldwide, with both sports freely available to watch. The games may well lack atmosphere without the usual crowd noise, but it’s likely to be many months before any sport can welcome back the fans live.
The next big betting sport to start again after the pandemic is likely to be Australia’s National Rugby League, the No.1 rugby league competition in the world.
The NRL is scheduled to restart on May 28. Australia has to date recorded a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases and sporting and government officials believe they can resume several sports under strict biosecurity measures. The Australian Football League (AFL) is slated to return in June, with players being called back to ramp up training with a view to the return.
Planned start dates for major sports
Here is our easy-to-follow guide to the latest restart dates from the big sports, from America’s NBA and the English Premier League to the AFL and NRL in Australia.
NFL: The National Football League is on track to start on schedule on September 10. It is the only major United States sports so far largely unaffected by COVID-19. The recent NRL draft attracted record TV figures amid the lockdown.
Restart date: Earliest possible seems to be June 11, with exact date to be announced on or around May 11.
The AFL had completed only the first round of its truncated 2020 season when new government travel restrictions meant it had to go on hold on from March 22.
Major League Baseball: Officials are hopeful of starting the season in late June/early July, with fans unlikely to be allowed at the games.
KBO League: The Korean baseball league has resumed after the lockdown following their success in bringing the number of COVID-19 cases under control. No fans can attend.
Nippon Professional Baseball: The Japanese baseball league ordinarily starts in March but Japan was one of the early epicentres of the COVID-19 outbreak. No new start date had been set as at early May but the inter-league games have been scrapped leaving a 125-game season.
NBA: The best case scenario is the 2019-20 NBA season resumes in mid to late June. The NBA finals are usually played in June, but the NBA is expected to announce its plans for this season in the first half of May.
Indian Premier League: The IPL was due to start on March 29 but in mid-April the Board of Control for Cricket in India postponed the hugely popular tournament indefinitely.
Twenty20 World Cup: The T20 World Cup is scheduled to start in Australia on October 18. The matches seem certain to be played without crowds but at this stage the tournament is going ahead. All teams traveling from overseas will have to quarantine for at least two weeks on arrival in Australia.
The Hundred: The inaugural tournament in England, featuring eight city-based franchises, has been postponed until 2021.
Cycling’s governing body the UCI (International Cycling Union) has compressed the major races into three months from August, including the three Grand Tours – Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana. The Giro and Vuelta will overlap so cyclists will have to choose between the two.
Giro d’Italia: Was originally due to start on May 9 but is now due to start on October 3.
Tour de France: Due to start on June 27 but has now been scheduled to start on August 29.
Spain: Vuelta a Espana has been rescheduled to start on October 20.
Golf has also been hard hit by the coronavirus, with the 2020 British Open cancelled and the other majors pushed back. All pro golf has been on hold, with the first PGA Tour tournament back the Charles Schwab Challenge at the Colonial Golf Club in Fort Worth, Texas, from June 11-14.
New dates for the remaining golf majors
US PGA Championship: TPC Harding Park, San Francisco, California. August 6-9.
United States Open: Winged Foot Golf Club, New York, September 17-20.
US Masters: The US Masters will be played at Augusta National, Georgia, between November 12-15.
The unofficial fifth major, the Players Championship at Sawgrass, was scrapped after the first round.
Ryder Cup: The USA v Europe contest is scheduled for Whistling Straits at Kohler, Wisconsin, from September 22-27.
New dates for rescheduled women’s golf majors
August 6-9: The Evian Championship, France
August 20-23: Women’s British Open
September 10-13: ANA Inspiration, California
October 8-11: KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Pennsylvania
December 10-13: US Women’s Open, Texas
NHL. The National Hockey League (NHL) has suspended its season indefinitely, as of Thursday, March 12. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the delay in the current season could push back the 2020-21 season start to December. Other ice hockey leagues have also been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
The Mixed Martial Arts action resumed with UFC 249 held behind closed doors in Jacksonville, Florida, on May 9, 2020. There are several more events scheduled for that arena throughout May.
UFC 250: Scheduled to be held on June 6 in the United States, while events scheduled for Kazakhstan, Canada, the US and Ireland through June to August have been postponed.
Formula One: Restart date: July 5. The first 10 race of the 2020 season were cancelled with the season now expected to start with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5. Organisers still hope to have 15-18 races in Eurasia, Asia and the Americas, with the finale in Abu Dhabi.
MotoGP: Restart date: July 19. While no races are scheduled before August, there is a push to move the rescheduled Spanish MotoGP at Jerez to July 19.
Six Nations: The 2020 tournament has been postponed with a round left to play. October 31 has been mentioned as a possible date for the final round.
France: The Top 14 rugby competition was abandoned and organisers were focusing on the 2020-21 season. It had not been decided if champions for 2019-20 would be named.
Super Rugby: Suspended after seven rounds and given teams are based in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Japan and Argentina, there is little hope of salvaging the 2020 season. Instead, rugby in the southern hemisphere is likely to resume in July, in Australia and New Zealand at least, with domestic competitions.
NRL: The NRL is scheduled to return on May 28, with the plan for a shortened 20-round season, and the grand final to be played on October 25. The State of Origin series is to be played after the grand final. The National Rugby League completed the first two rounds of its 2020 season before it ground to a halt.
Super League: The England-based rugby league competition is not likely to restart before July. The teams have played seven rounds of a 30-round season, with teams expected to be asked to play three times per week if and when the competition restarts.
World Championship 2020: Rescheduled to start on July 31 at The Crucible in Sheffield. It was originally due to be held in April-May.
The World Athletics Indoor Championships scheduled for Nanjing, China, on March 13-15 haven been rescheduled for Nanjing in March, 2021.
Meanwhile, marathons in Paris, Barcelona and London have been marathons have been postponed.
English Premier League: Resumption date: possibly mid-June. With only nine rounds left to play Liverpool have their first EPL title since 1989-90 all but parcelled up with a 25-point lead from Manchester City.
German Bundesliga: Resumption date: May 16. With nine rounds left in the top-division season, Bayern Munich are four points clear of Borussia Dortmund, with RB Leipzig just a further point back in third.
Spain’s La Liga: Resumption date: June. With 11 rounds left, Barcelona are two points clear of great rivals Real Madrid.
Italian Serie A: Resumption date: Late May or early June. There are a tick over 12 rounds left to play, with just one point separating Juventus and Lazio at the top of the table and Inter Milan nine points off the lead with a game in hand.
France, Ligue 1: Cancelled with Paris-Saint Germain leading the table by 12 points and crowned champions.
China: Start date. June-July. The China Super League season was due to start in February.
Japan: Resumption date: June.
South Korea: The K League is ready to resume without fans in attendance on Friday, May 8.
Australia: The A-League season was halted on March 24, with five rounds, plus finals, left. The league plans to resume in August, with all games likely to be held in Sydney, with no crowds allowed.
Copa America 2021: Rescheduled from 2020 to start a year later on June 12- July 12, l 2021.
Euro 2021: Rescheduled from 2020 to start a year later
Among the grand slam tournaments, Wimbledon has been cancelled, while the Australian Open was played in January before the crisis.
The remaining two grand slams for Paris and New York have been rescheduled as follows but remain in grave doubt:
US Open: August 25
French Open: September 20 or September 27
ATP Tour: Return date of mid-July at the earliest.
WTA Tour: Return date of mid-July at the earliest.
The world championships of table tennis were due to be played in South Korea in March but have been delayed until September 27-October 4.
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