What’s Going On in Non-Aquatic Sports in Light of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Braden Keith contributed to this report. 

Here at SwimSwam, we obviously spend the vast majority of our time focusing on swimming, diving, and water polo. But we’d be remiss to imply that our sports happen in a vacuum — there’s a whole world out there of fallout in the wake of the Olympic cancellation, and aquatics is just one realm impacted.

We’ve compiled some notable storylines, some lighter than others, from sports across the globe to give you a sense of what’s going on… and maybe give you some extracurricular reading to pass the time.


  • Archery
  • Athletics (Track & Field)
  • Badminton
    • Badminton World Federation secretary-general Thomas Lund snapped back at athletes that criticized the organization for continuing to hold world tournaments as a coronavirus pandemic spread across the world. The tone is the opposite of most of the world’s governing bodies, which have attempted a more conciliatory tone with athletes. “It has been very disappointing to see some members of the badminton community speculate on the sincerity and motives of the BWF in this time of crisis,” Lund said in an open letter.
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
    • FIBA has postponed the 3×3 Olympic Qualification Tournament.
  • Boxing
    • A Turkish boxer and trainer competed at an Olympic qualifying tournament in London, leading to widespread criticism of the IOC, which took over Olympic boxing qualifying when the AIBA governing body was suspended. Fingers are being pointed between IOC and British government. Now, six have claimed to have contracted coronavirus at the qualifier.
    • Keyshawn Davis, an American boxer who won a World Championship silver medal in 2019 in the Lightweight class, is considering going pro now that the Olympics are postponed. Boxers must be amateurs to compete in the Olympics
  • Golf
    • With a much more prestigious field than four years ago, the postponement will cause total chaos in the PGA calendar.
    • Tiger Woods wants in on the Olympics, but hasn’t played well enough this year. This gives him one more year to get healthy and line up for the one thing missing from his resume.
  • Gymnastics
    • USA Gymnastics bankruptcy hearing – and by extension, decertification – is put on hold because of coronavirus.
  • Handball
    • The Champions League Final 4 has been postponed until August, with a huge number of players set to change teams on July 1st. That means the teams that qualified for the Final 4 might look very different from the ones who play.
  • Indoor Volleyball
    • Volleyball superstar and the sport’s biggest ‘bad boy’ Earvin Ngapeth was diagnosed with coronavirus but has been released from the hospital.
  • Judo
    • Japan, the world’s leading Judo nation, had already named their team for the Olympics in 13 of 14 weight classes. The final class was due for a fight-off in April to determine the representative.
    • Postponement gives Kosovo judo star Majlinda Kelmendi time to heal from injury ahead of 2021. She’s the defending Olympic gold medalist in the 52kg weight class.
  • Road Cycling
    • The Tour de France in 2020 could be held with no spectators.
  • Rowing
    • Olympic silver medalist Polly Swann, who qualified as a doctor last year, is considering returning to work with the NHS. Her Rio crewmate Melanie Wilson is now a doctor.
  • Rugby Sevens
    • In a sport where injury rates are so high, athletes who have prepared to peak for the Olympics are now left to stay in peak physical form for another year.
    • USA Rugby is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, it announced Monday.
  • Soccer
    • For the US, Carli Lloyd is delaying retirement to play in 2021, and Alex Morgan — who is currently pregnant and due in April — has more time to return to form after saying she wanted to play in Tokyo. 
    • Australia is looking to FIFA to raise the age limit for the 2021 Olympic Games men’s tournament. Unlike the women’s tournament, the men’s tournament is age limited to 23 years old.
  • Softball
    • Softball, which was set to return to the Olympics for the first time since 2008, is in a good spot: qualification by country is already complete, but rosters could potentially get shaken up.
  • Sports Climbing
    • There were no athletes at the official Tokyo 2020 test event in March, instead replacing the competitors with organizing committee staff.
  • Surfing
    • Surfers in California are being issued citations for violating beach closures.
  • Table Tennis
  • Tennis
    • The Olympic cancellation allows more breathing room to reschedule other canceled or postponed tournaments in this year’s pro tour cycle.
  • Triathlon
    • While most of the world’s international governing bodies have supported the IOC’s decision, the International Triathlon Union (ITU) says they would have preferred an earlier date to avoid the worst of the Tokyo summer heat, but accept the decision. Most triathletes have been able to continue running and bike training, though swimming has been harder.
  • Weightlifting
    • The IOC has said that athletes already qualified “by name” through IOC quotas, rather than through national Olympic committees, will remain qualified for 2021. This includes weightlifters, who qualify based on world ranking. 

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9 months ago

Woah cool summary. Love the update!

9 months ago

think Wimbledon is cancelled?

9 months ago

I’m curious what men’s soccer will do for the Olympics. That’s supposed to be all U-23’s, and the Americans were one of the top teams, but about half their squad will age-out of that bracket by 2021.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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