ITF's revamped Fed Cup Finals postponed along with Fifa Congress
The new-look Fed Cup Finals, the national team's women's tennis tournament slated to debut in Budapest, Hungary, next month, was today postponed because of the impact of coronavirus.
The 12-team event was due to take place from 14 to 19 April, but the International Tennis Federation and the local organising committee have acted after the Hungarian government prohibited public gatherings of more than 100 people as part of measures to counter the virus.
The play-offs, which were scheduled to go ahead in eight locations around the world on 17 and 18 April, have also been postponed.
The ITF said it will co-ordinate with the Hungarian authorities, the women's WTA and national associations to organise alternative dates for the events later this year.
David Haggerty, president of the ITF, said: "We are extremely disappointed to have to make this decision, but we will not risk the safety and welfare of players, captains, event staff or spectators. This decision has not been made lightly; the threat posed by the COVID-19 is a serious one and calls for us to act responsibly as a federation and as human beings. This situation goes beyond sport."
Some $18 million was due to be on offer in prize money, up from $7.5 million last year, with the increase in part enabled by the Hungarian government, which has taken on full financial responsibility for the event.Meanwhile, Fifa today postponed its 2020 Congress, which was due to take place in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, from early-June to mid-September, because of the coronavirus.
The global outbreak has already prompted the suspension of various soccer leagues, and the postponement of many matches, while others have had to take place behind closed doors.
In a statement on Wednesday, Fifa said: “Concerns over the health and well-being of participants, as well as travel restrictions in many countries, have resulted in the cancellation or postponement of many such events in various parts of the world.
“Mindful of this, and given the wish of Fifa to organise a Congress which all member associations are able to attend, the Bureau of the Fifa Council decided yesterday to reschedule the 70th Fifa Congress from Friday, 5 June 2020 to Friday, 18 September 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.”
The postponement of the Congress threatens to disrupt planning for various events, including the relaunched Fifa Club World Cup in China in 2021, although a Fifa council meeting that was scheduled for 20 March will go ahead on a date to be confirmed in June or July, either at Fifa’s headquarters in Zurich, or via videoconference.
The coronavirus continued to impact on European club competitions today with Uefa announcing that, as a result of travel restrictions, tomorrow's Spanish-Italian Europa League ties between Sevilla and Roma and between Inter Milan and Getafe will not take place as scheduled.
Spain's Copa del Rey final between Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao in Seville on 18 April is also off.
These developments come after LaLiga declared this week that all matches will be played behind closed doors for the next two weeks.