Coronavirus: What they said

The coronavirus pandemic has brought sport to a standstill across the UK and most of the world.

Here, the PA news agency looks at what the sporting community have been saying in reaction on March 18.

“There is more to life than football. I do not feel comfortable and don’t want to play football in this situation. Everyone should be home with their families and loved ones in this critical time. Season should be cancelled as the world is facing such turbulent times.” – Former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel on having his Trabzonspor contract terminated by mutual consent, with some matches in Turkey still going ahead despite the pandemic.

“I’m expecting the Olympics to be postponed and I think that would be the best-case scenario for me at the moment. A cancellation would be devastating after all the hard work I’ve put in to get to this point.” – Team GB Olympic gymnastics hopeful Becky Downie on the prospects for Tokyo 2020.

“There is a big woodland park nearby and we can go there with the dogs – they have never been walked so much. I went out and bought PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch so I’ve got things that will keep me occupied but, like every player, I’d much rather be training and playing. But I think we all have to accept that it’s going to be a while before things return to normal.” – Brighton defender George Cox on being left stranded in Holland, where is on loan at Fortuna Sittard.

“We have already seen many examples throughout society of human nature at its best in the face of adversity and I encourage you all, more than ever, to look out for one another. We will not be playing Premier League football for a period of time and we support the decision of the authorities because it is necessary at this time, and we all need to do all we can to play our part which, in the long term, could help to save lives.” – West Ham manager David Moyes reflects on the current situation.

“It’s just business as usual, without the games. It was a club decision to continue to train, to keep levels of fitness up. These boys are social animals by nature. Young, vibrant men, and I’m sure they would think about having a coffee in a Starbucks somewhere…. We’ve spread the players out across four changing rooms now, and when you’re out on that big open pitch with fresh air it’s a place where, I’m not saying it’s safe, but it’s a safer place than confined spaces.” Luton boss Graeme Jones believes the training pitch is currently the safest place for his squad.

“I am of course aware that not everyone can or will recover from this virus, so I urge all of the football and sporting community to continue to act responsibly and look out for the health of others. I want to make it clear that I am no medical expert when it comes to challenging times such as these, but please do take the time to call older relatives and vulnerable people who might be alone, or offer to drop round shopping if they can’t get out. Let’s make sure we all take care of each other.” – Chelsea boss Frank Lampard offers some thoughts for the wider community after revealing England winger Callum Hudson-Odoi is making “great progress” in his recovery from coronavirus.

“It’s a frustrating time for us all – none of us is sure what to expect or knows what is around the corner…. It’s disappointing, obviously – because we all want to keep racing – but at the same time, the health of the country takes priority. Hopefully it won’t be too long – but that’s the trouble, nobody really knows what is ahead of us.” – Four-time champion jockey Richard Johnson on the uncertainty facing the horse racing industry.

“September is a long way off so there’s no change to the situation at all at this stage. I know there’s been some rumours and they had to put out a statement to say there’s been no change, but there’s definitely no change…. There was a big announcement (on Tuesday) by the PGA Tour about events being cancelled until May and now the PGA Championship has been postponed as well, so that’s as far as they’ve gotten – until the middle of the May is where they’ve taken steps to.” – European captain Padraig Harrington expects this year’s Ryder Cup to go ahead as planned at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin from September 25-27.

“This is an exceptional situation which requires exceptional solutions. The IOC is committed to finding a solution with the least negative impact for the athletes while protecting the integrity of the competition and the athletes’ health. No solution will be ideal in this situation, and this is why we are counting on the responsibility and solidarity of the athletes.” – The International Olympic Committee responds to after several Tokyo 2020 hopefuls questioned advice from the IOC asking them to prepare “as best they can” for the Games.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy says the coronavirus pandemic represents the biggest challenge of his 20-year tenure
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy says the coronavirus pandemic represents the biggest challenge of his 20-year tenure (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We are all facing uncertain times both at work and in our personal lives. I have spent nearly 20 years growing this club and there have been many hurdles along the way – none of this magnitude – the COVID-19 pandemic is the most serious of them all… With such uncertainty we shall all need to work together to ensure the impact of this crisis does not undermine the future stability of the club… We shall look to come out of this stronger and more resilient than ever. Our hope is that the virus peaks over the coming weeks and that we have a summer to enjoy. Please look after yourselves and stay safe and healthy. This is more important than football.” – Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy on the impact of the pandemic, as the Premier League club announced their financial results for 2018-19.

“Our most important qualifying race cancelled… we saw it coming but it doesn’t make motivation to keep working hard any easier to find… just got to dig deep and carry on any way we can!” – Paralympian Hannah Cockroft on the impact of key events in the run-up to Tokyo 2020 now not taking place.

Our update on the recreational game in light of the developing COVID-19 situation.

— England and Wales Cricket Board (@ECB_cricket) March 18, 2020

“Cricket and sport is not the be all and end all, but it is my livelihood, it’s all I know. The season is unlikely to start. It’s still a little bit hazy as to what’s going to happen. There’s a chance we might not even bowl a ball this summer…. Just the not knowing is giving me a bit of anxiety.” – England seamer James Anderson fears the domestic and international summer cricket schedule could be scrapped altogether.

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