World Indoor Track and Field Championships Postponed Due to Coronavirus Outbreak


World Athletics, track and field’s global governing body, has postponed the upcoming World Indoor Track and Field Championships in Nanjing, China, due to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. The new virus has killed more than 130 people, infected more than 6,000 and continues to spread across at least 17 countries.

World Athletics issued the following statement:

"We know that China is doing all it can to contain the new Coronavirus and we support them in all their efforts but it is necessary to provide our athletes, Member Federations and partners with a clear way forward in what is a complex and fast-moving set of circumstances.

The advice from our medical team, who are in contact with the World Health Organisation, is that the spread of the Coronavirus both within China and outside the country is still at a concerning level and no one should be going ahead with any major gathering that can be postponed.

We have considered the possibility of relocating the event to another country and would like to thank the cities that have volunteered to host the championships. However, given concerns still exist regarding the spread of the virus outside China, we have decided not to go with this option, as it may lead to further postponement at a later date.

The indoor season for athletics falls within a narrow calendar window (up to the end of March) and we believe we will be able to find a suitable date in 2021 to host this event. We would like Nanjing to be the host given the extensive planning and preparation they have put into this event.

We have chosen not to cancel the championships as many of our athletes would like this event to take place so we will now work with our athletes, our partners and the Nanjing organizing committee to secure a date in 2021 to stage this event."

The World Health Organization noted the global risk assessment of the virus as “high” on Monday, Jan. 17. Health officials in the United States have urged people to avoid any nonessential travel to China.

The indoor championships were scheduled to begin on Friday, March 13 and run through Sunday, March 15. On Sunday, the Asian Athletics Association canceled its indoor championships, which were slated to be held in Hangzhou.

The Asian Football Confederation initially moved an Olympic soccer qualifying tournament from Wuhan to Nanjing before deciding to relocate its matches to Sydney, Australia, from Feb. 3-9.

The 2020 U.S.A. Track and Field Indoor Championships will be held Feb. 14 and 15 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The top two finishers in each event with the proper qualifying marks would have been selected to compete at the World Indoor Championships.

In a statement to Sports Illustrated, a spokesperson for USA Track and Field said they monitored the situation in China closely with World Athletics, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We put the safety and well-being of our athletes first and fully agree with World Athletics’ decision to postpone World Indoors," a USATF spokesperson said.