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9 Instances When World Events Have Disrupted Sports

Many world events have caused games to be rescheduled or canceled

The COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted the sports world on a level not seen since World War II. All remaining NCAA winter and spring sports championships, including both the men's and women's basketball tournaments, and the XFL regular season were canceled, and every other major sporting event taking place between March and May has been delayed, if not canceled outright.

 

Over the past 100-plus years, world events have disrupted, canceled, or delayed sporting events. Here are the nine most memorable times that has happened before the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Note: Events are listed in chronological order

 

Mt. Vesuvius Eruption (1906)

On April 5, 1906, Mt. Vesuvius erupted, killing more than 100 people, and spewed the most lava ever in its recorded history. It also forced the 1908 Summer Olympics to move from Rome to London. The Italian government asked another city to take the games so it could focus on rebuilding Naples. London was selected and stepped up to save the day. Rome is one example of a city fully acknowledging its limitations in hosting the Olympics.

 

World War I (1914-18)

The Great War forced the cancellation of the 1916 Summer Olympics (the Winter Olympics did not begin until 1924), the French Open from 1915-19, Wimbledon from 1915-18, the Australian Open from 1916-18, the British Open from 1915-19, and the US Open golf tournament from 1917-18. Major League Baseball also played a 25-game shorter schedule in 1918.

 

World War II (1939-45)

World War II caused every worldwide sporting event to be canceled as countries came together to fight the Axis Powers. The Wimbledon village was bombed during the war with 14,000 homes being destroyed and the Centre Court being severely damaged in 1940. In the United States, college football, the NFL, and Major League Baseball carried on despite a dearth of talent as most of its players were supporting the war effort. In college football, the best teams were the military academies and teams from military training schools.

 

JFK Assassination (Nov. 22, 1963)

The college basketball season did not start until late December, so it did not have to make any tough decisions. NHL and NBA games were canceled on the day of the assassination, but teams were given the leeway to resume that weekend. College football teams were also given the discretion to postpone or play. Many were rescheduled, but some games like Nebraska/Oklahoma and Kentucky/Tennessee were played. In pro football, the AFL rescheduled its games, but the NFL went ahead and played. Commissioner Pete Rozelle originally said the games were played in honor of President Kennedy, but later regretted the decision.

 

San Francisco Earthquake (Oct. 17, 1989)

The earthquake took place as the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics were preparing to play Game 3 of the World Series. The game was postponed while the Giants' Candlestick Park was repaired, and the San Francisco 49ers played their Oct. 22 game against the New England Patriots in nearby Stanford Stadium. The Series resumed on Oct. 27 with the Athletics winning Game 3 and Game 4 the next day to sweep the Giants.

 

Los Angeles Riots (April 29-May 4, 1992)

The California Angels were on the road playing the Cleveland Indians and Detroit Tigers during and after the riots, and the Los Angeles Kings had been eliminated from the NHL playoffs the day before. However, the Los Angeles Dodgers had to cancel four games and the Clippers, and the Lakers had to move their home playoff games because of the riots. The Clippers moved to the smaller Anaheim Convention Center to play the Utah Jazz, and the Lakers faced the Portland Trailblazers in the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.

 

9/11 (Sept. 11, 2001)

The 9/11 attacks delayed Major League Baseball, the NFL, and college football by a week. In football, the games the weekend after Sept. 11 were moved to the end of the regular season.

 

SARS Outbreak (2002-04)

China was originally scheduled to host the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup, but the SARS outbreak in southern China caused FIFA to move it to the United States.

 

Hurricane Katrina (Aug. 23-31, 2005)

The Katrina disaster and aftermath made a mess of the Superdome and left the New Orleans Saints and Tulane Green Wave without a home. The Saints played all of their home games at LSU's Tiger Stadium and San Antonio's Alamodome. Tulane played all of its games on the road (the basketball team played its first four games in College Station, Texas, before returning home). When the Saints returned to the refurbished Superdome, it brought the city together in one of the most emotional moments in NFL history. The NBA's Hornets played the majority of their games in Oklahoma City for two seasons, and the fans' support for the team led to the NBA helping the city land its own franchise in the Oklahoma City Thunder.

 

— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.

 

(Top photo courtesy of Getty Images)

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