It’s not often sports is cancelled on such a global scale like the way it currently is. These certainly are unprecedented times that we are in and it will be talked about as an extraordinary time not just in sport but in human history.
I won’t ramble on about Covid – 19 because I’m sure you are sick of hearing about it and this is a place for escapism. But the virus has taken a stranglehold on the sporting hold in a way many of us have never seen before.
In football all major leagues have been suspended, the Champions League and Europa League are on hold and Euro 2020 has been pushed back to next summer. Rugby’s six nations competition is yet to be finished, The Masters in April won’t go ahead as planned and The Grand National in Aintree has been cancelled just to name a few.
We can all agree that these events mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. Of course, the health and well being of all involved is of paramount importance.
On the flip side to millions around the world its more than just a sport. It’s their escape, their way to blow of some stream or even their social life when they attend or take part in sport. Yes, sport gets postponed on a regular basis due to bad weather conditions stopping a match going ahead. Even a tragic passing can see an event get cancelled rightfully out of respect.
Then we have sporting events that have been outright cancelled or delayed for unprecedented reasons such as they are today. Either lost to the passage of time or a horrendous and sad patch in our history. Let’s look at some other unbelievable reasons that sporting events have been cancelled. Don’t worry this is a Coronavirus zone from here on out.
World War I & II
The Summer Olympics in 1916 were due to take place in Berlin. Even when the first World War broke out in 1914 plans still went ahead for the games to take place. Nobody believed the war would continue for several years. Sadly, it did, and the 1916 Summer Olympics never went ahead. Berlin would have to wait until 1936 Olympics which turned out to be the final games before the outbreak of World War II.
The Olympics were once again cancelled by the outbreak of the second World War. The summer and winter Olympic games in 1940 and 1944 were cancelled. This was due to many people fighting in the war or been involved in war efforts rightfully so sports were the last thing on their minds.
Football was also greatly affected at the time especially around Europe. Around England most leagues were suspended during their 1939/40 seasons and didn’t kick another ball for about six years. France done the same thing and Italy’s national league Serie A cancelled its 1944/45 season.
It truly was a day when the earth stood still and watched as the horror unfolded in front of our very eyes. Another incident when sport rightfully took a back seat.
Yet in the immediate aftermath of the attacks many high profiled American sporting events were cancelled. This was due to national security, respect and as previously mentioned sport just not been a priority at the time.
One of the biggest sporting events of the planet the 2002 Super Bowl St. Louis Rams vs New England Patriots was pushed back to February for the first time. While the MLB (Baseball) was extended out until November due to postponements. It was the MLS (Football/Soccer) that had its final two weeks of the season outright cancelled.
Other American sports such as NASCAR, NCAA college football and even the PGA tour faced postponements.
Events across the pond also felt the impact. With the Ryder Cup that was been held in England at the time was delayed a year for its American players.
Weather tends to regularly interrupt sporting events worldwide. The likes of wind, rain and overall poor playing conditions factoring in with regular postponements.
Hurricanes are different folks’ hurricanes leave a path of destruction that take people a long time to put back together. Hurricane Katrina tends to stand out as it tore through New Orleans and its surrounding areas. Another event when sport simply must take a back seat but was impacted like so many other aspects of peoples lives.
NFL franchise New Orleans Saints didn’t play any home games in their home stadium the Superdome that season as it was used to give victims of the hurricane a temporary place to go. Many NCAA college football games involving Louisiana State University were postponed and cancelled in the aftermath.
Hurricane Sandy was another horrendous event that took the lives of 53 people and caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage to American states such as New York and New Jersey in 2012.
A week after Hurricane Sandy was the famous New York Marathon and was cancelled two days before it was set to go ahead. This was the first and only time the marathon was cancelled since its inception in 1970. It went ahead in 2001 after the previously mentioned 9/11 attacks in New York. Showing that sport does have a healing and coping mechanism to many people.
Foot and mouth disease
Another disease that put a halt to major sporting events but not as globally as we are currently experiencing. Foot and mouth had a major outbreak in Britain back in 2001.
Cheltenham Festival turned out to be its biggest casualty as the famous horse racing event was cancelled this year. It is estimated that this lost the local economy an estimated 10 million pounds and bookmakers 100 million pounds at the time.
The festival is notoriously difficult due to the financial loss that cancellation has on one of the biggest betting events of the year. Many people even called for this year’s event to be cancelled but them calls fell on deaf ears as the event went ahead.
Even back in 2001 it was going ahead been pushed back to April. However, despite the efforts of the organisers to keep the event going Cheltenham racecourse itself was put into an exclusion zone after a case of a disease was found locally. This meant all racing had to be called.
The Ireland rugby side felt the impact of the disease also. With three of their six nations games that year been postponed to September and October.
A Bomb Threat
Sticking with horse racing this year isn’t the only year that the Grand National in Aintree has been put to a stop. It was also cancelled in 1997 but did go ahead two days later when the racecourse was given the all clear.
On the afternoon of the 5th of April in 1997 just before the grand national race was meant to take place Aintree racecourse was evacuated. The biggest to ever happen in British sporting history. This was due to Aintree University Hospital receiving a phone call by alleged members of the IRA saying that they planted a bomb in the racecourse.
Despite concerns of the fans in attendance two controlled explosions put any potential threats to bed and as previously mentioned the event did end up going ahead two days later in the end.