Skiing World Cup Finals to be Held Without Fans Due to Coronavirus: Ski Official


Stockholm: The alpine skiing World Cup Finals scheduled for next month in Italy will take place without any fans on the slopes due to the coronavirus outbreak, an International Ski Federation (FIS) official told Swedish television on Wednesday.

The event will be held between March 18-22 in Cortina d'Ampezzo in the Veneto region -- badly affected by a virus outbreak that has killed 12 people and infected 400 in Italy -- where the 2026 Winter Olympics will be hosted alongside Milan.

"As it stands Cortina is still where the competition will be held, but with no fans," FIS event director Markus Waldner told public broadcaster SVT.

"This could change in the coming days."

Italy has been hit harder than any other European country by the COVID-19 outbreak. It has also been a point of contagion with many cases in other countries involving people who returned home after travelling in infection-hit areas of northern Italy.

The country's sporting calendar has been thrown into chaos as it aims to contain the virus, with towns in the north in lockdown.

The Six Nations clash between Ireland and Italy in Dublin on March 7 was postponed on Wednesday while club matches in rugby union's Pro 14 and football's Serie A have also been shelved.

The second leg of Inter Milan's last 32 Europa League tie against Ludogorets at the San Siro will be played behind closed doors on Thursday, as will their huge match with league title rivals Juventus in Turin on Sunday.

Three other Serie A matches will have no fans in the stands this weekend, as will four second-tier Serie B fixtures.

The outbreak is also having an impact upon the global sporting calendar, with the postponement of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai, which had been due to take place on April 19.

Meanwhile athletics' World Indoor Championships, scheduled to take place in the Chinese city of Nanjing next month, has been postponed until 2021.

The outbreak could yet threaten the continent-wide Euro 2020 football championships starting in June and the Tokyo Olympics, due to get underway in July.