Coronavirus: round-up of UAE sports and events affected by outbreak

Some events have been cancelled or postponed while others are taking place behind closed doors

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - October 10, 2019: UAE's Ali Mabkhout scores during the Qatar 2022 world cup qualifier between The UAE and Indonesia. Thursday 10th of October. Al Maktoum Stadium, Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Many sports activities are continuing in the UAE but the calendar has been altered because of the coronavirus situation.

Abu Dhabi Sports Council announced the suspension of all sports events in the emirate as per Ministry of Health and Prevention advice.

However, regular training and competitions for participants over the age of 12 can continue, pending guidance from the individual sports federations.

Events deemed “imperative” can also go ahead as scheduled, albeit without any supporters in attendance.

Dubai Sports Council told its sports providers that “normal sporting activities should continue as usual” but those “with international participation” must be cancelled or postponed.

This is how some of the major sports in the country are affected.


DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 05 JANUARY 2020. Practise of the UAE National Footbal team at the UAE Football Association HQ in Al Khawaneej. Coach Ivan Jovanovic. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: John McAuley. Section: Sport.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 05 JANUARY 2020. Practise of the UAE National Footbal team at the UAE Football Association HQ in Al Khawaneej. Coach Ivan Jovanovic. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: John McAuley. Section: Sport.

The UAE’s next two World Cup qualifying matches are at home to Malaysia on March 26 and in Indonesia on March 31.

Although an official decision has not yet been made, discussions have taken place about postponing both until October or November.

“For both Fifa and the AFC, the well-being and health of all individuals involved in football matches remains the highest priority,” Fifa said.

“As such, a formal proposal to postpone upcoming matches in the Asian Fifa World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers will now be shared with the relevant member associations.”

Domestic matches have been continuing across the country, although they will be played behind closed doors until further notice.

Four UAE clubs involved in the Asian Champions League - Sharjah, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, Al Wahda, and Al Ain - had their third group matches postponed.

The AFC last week agreed to extend the dates for group stage matches affecting East Zone representatives, and met in Dubai at the weekend to discuss with West Zone representatives.

It said a full list of fixtures will be confirmed by March 16.


DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , Dec 12– 2019 :- Ahmed Raza of UAE playing a shot during the World Cup League 2 cricket match between UAE vs USA held at ICC academy in Dubai. USA won the match by 98 runs. ( Pawan Singh / The National )  For Sports. Story by Paul
UAE cricket team are awaiting news on whether the Cricket World Cup League Two series in Florida will go ahead. Pawan Singh / The National

The UAE are scheduled to play the next leg of the Cricket World Cup League Two campaign in Lauderhill in Florida.

The series comprises four one-day internationals, two each against US and Scotland, starting on April 1.

Although the ICC held talks about the situation with the hosts, there has been no formal announcement, so the tour is still on at present.

It is possible that could change after the news that two coronavirus cases have been reported in Broward County, Florida where the series is due to take place.

"Florida health officials late Friday night announced that two older male patients in Broward County have tested presumptive positive for novel coronavirus," the Miami Herald reported.

Horse racing

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MARCH 07:  A general view of the action from Mahab Al Shimall during the Dubai World Cup Carnival Races - Super Saturday at Meydan Racecourse on March 07, 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Horse racing events have continued across the UAE but behind closed doors. Getty Images

The most high-profile event on the UAE sports calendar this month is the Dubai World Cup.

The 25th anniversary meeting is set for March 28, and at present it is planned to proceed as scheduled.

Regular season races have continued, although admission to the courses has now been limited to "horse connections, sponsors and media personnel".

“In accordance with public safety measures pertaining to the proliferation of Covid-19, Emirates Racing Authority will contest the race meetings at Al Ain Racecourse, Jebel Ali Racecourse, Meydan Racecourse and Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club without attendees,” the ERA said on Thursday.

“Though without spectators, all races will be contested and regulated in a standard fashion, and results will be recorded in an official capacity.”


DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 28 FEBRUARY 2020. Rugby league. West Asia Premiership: Dubai Hurricanes v Jebel Ali Dragons at the Sevens Rugby grpund. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Paul Radley. Section: Sport.
The rugby season in the region has come to a halt. Antonie Robertson / The National

The UAE were due to play in the Asia Rugby Championship Division One at the end of April.

That has been postponed indefinitely, after Asia Rugby suspended all international competition from March to July.

Domestic rugby, too, has been curtailed. Gulf Rugby Management, the region's competitions organiser, took the decision last week to cancel the remainder of the West Asia Premiership season, because of restricted air travel between the UAE and Bahrain.

The UAE Rugby Federation then postponed all domestic rugby activities on Thursday.

The federation said there will be a “cessation of all rugby activities/academies for all age-groups with immediate effect until March 31.

“Resuming activities will be considered only following any update from higher governing authorities.”


The Mena Tour has ended early with six events remaining, although organisers hope to rearrange for later in the year. Courtesy Mena Tour
The Mena Tour has ended early with six events remaining, although organisers hope to rearrange for later in the year. Courtesy Mena Tour

The Mena Tour cut short its season with six events still to run, although the organisers say they plan to rearrange the competitions for later in the year.

“We are going to postpone the final six tournaments of the 2020 Mena Tour by Arena season, and re-schedule between September and December, 2020,” the Tour announced.

“Players who have already entered the postponed events will have the entry fees refunded or transferred to future events.”

Five of the six tournaments – three in the Northern Emirates, one in Abu Dhabi and one in Al Ain – were UAE-based.

The season finale had been scheduled for Al Aqaba in Jordan.

The Ladies Open at Yas Links, which had been due to be played on March 6 and 7, was also postponed “to ensure the health, safety and well-being of players, guests and visitors”.

Other sports

Athletes compete in the 20km bike race at the Elite Women race at Abu Dhabi Triathlon.

(Photo: Reem Mohammed/ The National)

Section: SP
The 2020 ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi was cancelled. Reem Mohammed /  The National

The UAE Tour was cut short at the end of last month with two legs still to go, when two Italian participants tested positive for the virus.

The ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi presented by Daman, which was set to be held on Yas Island on March 5-7, was postponed.

The opening round of the 2020 UCI Mountain Bike Eliminator World Cup to be staged at City Walk Dubai on Friday was cancelled.

UAE wrestling and judo competitions have been called off until further notice.