(Reuters) – The Diamond League has postponed its first three athletics meetings of the 2020 season due to be held in April and May in Qatar and China because of the coronavirus outbreak, it said on Tuesday.
The announcement came after Qatar banned inbound passenger flights and prevented the entry of foreign nationals on Sunday, making the Diamond League the latest high-profile competition to postpone events as the pandemic shuts down world sport.
“Due to the growing number of countries affected by the COVID-19 virus, the first three meetings of the 2020 Diamond League season, scheduled for April 17 in Qatar, May 9 and 16 in China, cannot be held as planned,” it said in a statement here
“The current plan is to stage the Shanghai event on August 13. New dates for Doha and the second meeting in China remain to be announced,” the Diamond League said.
It said although the number of new infections was decreasing in China, preparations for the meetings there were set back by “several weeks” due to travel restrictions.
The organisers said there was a possibility the events in China and Qatar could be held after the Diamond League Final in Zurich on Sept. 9-11.
Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 182,000 people and more than 7,100 have died. Mainland China has more than 80,000 cases with over 3,200 deaths while Qatar has more than 400 cases.
Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by David Clarke