Coronavirus: The story so far… 

As the current strain of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues to spread throughout the world, Athlete365 will be your place to find all the vital information you need to know about the Coronavirus. Here, we look at the origins of the disease and how it has developed and impacted the world of sport 

  • Discover where and when the disease originated 
  • Learn exactly what a pandemic is 
  • Find out how it has impacted sport 

When did the COVID-19 outbreak begin? 

In December 2019, cluster of acute respiratory disease cases were diagnosed in China. Investigations found that the disease had been caused by new type of Coronavirus that specialists had never seen before in humans. 

This disease is now referred to as Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). 

Those initial cases were mostly in people who had links to a seafood and live animal market in Wuhana large city in the Chinese province of Hubeiwhere many fish, reptiles, bats and other live and dead animals were traded. 

The disease then spread from those who were sick to others, including family members, healthcare staff and the local population of Wuhan 

Since then, the virus has spread throughout China and to other countries around the worldleading the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare this as a pandemic. 

What is a pandemic? 

WHO defines a pandemic as the worldwide spread of a new disease. 

Pandemics occur when a new virus emerges and spreads around the world, and most people do not have immunity to this virus. 

Where did COVID-19 come from? 

Coronaviruses circulate in a range of animals and can sometimes make the jump from animals to humans. 

This can occur due to a range of factors, such as mutations in the virus or increased contact between humans and animals.  

In the case of SARS, it is known that people caught the virus via direct or indirect contact with infected civet cats. MERS, meanwhile, originated in camels. 

It is not yet known how COVID-19 was first transmitted to humans. 

How has COVID-19 impacted sport? 

The spread of coronavirus has impacted the staging of sporting events around the world.  

Among the first events to be affected was the Asian/Oceanian boxing qualification event for Tokyo 2020, which was originally scheduled to take place in Wuhan from 3 to 14 February. The event was cancelled by the IOC in January, and this was followed by a succession of other cancellations and postponements across the sporting world. 

Initially, most of the events affected were those that were due to be staged in China, including the World Athletics Indoor Championships, but as the virus spread throughout the world, so too did its impact on sport. 

Currently, almost all top-level sport has been suspended. 

What is the IOC doing with regard to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020? 

On 24 March, IOC President Thomas Bach, and the Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo, held a conference call to discuss the constantly changing environment with regard to COVID-19 and Tokyo 2020.  

This resulted in a joint decision by the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee to postpone the Games to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community. 

The leaders agreed that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could stand as a beacon of hope to the world during these troubled times and that the Olympic flame could become the light at the end of the tunnel in which the world finds itself at present. Therefore, it was agreed that the Olympic flame will stay in Japan. It was also agreed that the Games will keep the name Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. 

To access our explainer on what COVID-19 actually is, click here