Strange Reasons for Cancelled Sports and Events
The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has led to the cancellation of numerous sporting events around the world. The threat was first detected the year prior but was thought to be contained in China originally. However, it didn’t take long for it to spread around the globe, becoming a threat to people all over. In a bid to try and keep citizens safe, countries would lock themselves down, stopping the play of various sports and associated events in the process. One of the biggest events to be halted was the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which is now scheduled to take place in 2021 instead.
Of course, COVID-19 has caused multiple issues worldwide, and the sporting scene is just one of them. However, it’s quite curious to know about other times when sports events have been cancelled for odd or bizarre reasons. Have there been any postponements or cancellations as serious as 2020’s series of problems? And what are some of the strangest reasons for sports events to be cancelled? Let’s take a closer look at some of the occurrences.
Blackburn Vs. Middlesbrough – “Flu Epidemic” of 1996
It would be huge to compare the flu epidemic of 1996 to the coronavirus pandemic of today, but it still remained effective enough to call of a game between two Premier League teams. It occurred just before Christmas, with the Middlesbrough team opting to cancel proceedings right before it was due to be played. The claim was that 23 players from the team were unavailable because of injury, illness or suspension.
However, dire consequences would be felt for the Middlesbrough side later on. A resulting Premier League enquiry saw Rovers argue over the question of if they should have been awarded points or not. In the end, the match between the two teams was rescheduled for a later date, and Middlesbrough suffered a 3-point deduction and £50,000 fine.
The eventual game finished in a draw result between Blackburn and Middlesbrough, but that 3-point deduction would prove to be the undoing of the latter team. In the end, Middlesbrough were relegated on the final day of the ’96 season.
As things turned out, Middlesbrough had been beaten by Liverpool 5-0 the week before their original scheduled game against Blackburn. Frightened of being relegated, the team thought that if the match wasn’t able to go ahead at all, it would result in them not being demoted, as no point were handed out or lost. Of course, that’s not at all what happened, and Boro came off worse for it at the end of the season.
Man United Vs. Bournemouth – Bomb Scare of 2016
Old Trafford is known as the popular home ground of Manchester United, and in 2016, on their final match of the season against Bournemouth, Sky Sports ended up broadcasting pre-match coverage from the car park of the ground. But what could possibly have forced such an outcome?
Well, a mysterious parcel which had been cited as a bomb was discovered within the stadium. As hundreds of fans made their way inside, news of a package being left in the toilets was announced over the PA system. The match was instantly cancelled, and the Sky Sports crew, all of the fans, the players and everyone else had to be escorted from the building. This made it the first time in 24 years that a match was postponed in the Premier League on security grounds.
It was little comfort later than, to realise that it wasn’t actually a bomb at all. It was, instead, a dummy bomb that had been left behind at Old Trafford by the head of the Security Search Management & Solutions Ltd firm. Chris Reid, managing director, said that he took full responsibility for the fake explosive, which was described as very lifelike by those who had seen it. Following a training exercise that Chris and his team had run at the stadium the previous week, the fake bomb was accidentally abandoned in the toilets.
Seattle Vs. Montreal – Stanley Cup, 1919
It’s clear to see that this particular sporting event is over 100 years old, but it has gone down in the history books as one of the biggest occasions when sports have been cancelled. The Stanley Cup Finals were due to take place between Seattle and Montreal, but in 1919, the whole world was caught up in the grip of its own influenza pandemic, much like the COVID-19 one experienced recently. Back then, around 50 million people were killed by the virus, which swept from country to country.
The Stanley Cup Finals were to be five games in a six-game series, as both teams had won two and tied one. However, on April 1, with hours to spare before the start of the deciding game, players on both sides were hospitalised with the virus. Those from Montreal were hit particularly hard by it, with only three of their team remaining unaffected by it. Four days after, the British-born defenceman Joe Hall passed away in a Seattle hospital. The manager of the Canadiens at the time, George Kennedy, also fell very ill. Despite recovering to begin with, he succumbed to aftereffects of it two years later.
Neither team was awarded a victory, and the Stanley Cup continued on without a winner for that year. However, upon the cup being redesigned in 1948, the names of both teams were added to its collar, with the words, “Series Not Completed”, next to them.
Islamic Solidarity Games of 2010
It was back in 2005 when Saudi Arabia hosted the very first Islamic Solidarity Games. This was done in a bid to strengthen the ties between the 57 nations of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Of those 57 countries, 55 of them committed teams to the events, and 7,000 competitors displayed their athletic prowess across 108 events. The success of them led to the intent to host a second one, with 2009 being the chosen year, and Iran being the selected host country.
However, things didn’t go so smoothly at all. Saudi Arabia and Iran engaged in quite a bitter war of words, which came about thanks to the fact that all event literature and medals referred to the “Persian Gulf”. Obviously, Iran is heavily proud of its Persian heritage, but Saudi Arabia took offence to the possessive nature of the words relating to The Gulf. Iran refused to back and change things, and so the games were outrightly called off due to the fact that there wasn’t any sort of solidarity in play – which was the original idea for the Games being started!
That disharmony over the words used in relation to The Gulf has been quite the recurring issue for the Games, mainly between Arab states and Iran. In the end, the next event in the Islamic Solidarity Games occurred in Palembang, Indonesia in 2013. The latest event occurred in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2017, and the next one is scheduled for Konya, Turkey in 2021.
Aryan Games of the 1940s
The Aryan Games were a proposed replacement for the Olympic Games in Nazi Germany. Carl Diem, the Nazi sports administrator who proceeded with organising the 1936 Berlin Olympics, suggested the idea of the Aryan Games to Hitler for once they had won the ongoing war. Hitler agreed to it, and it was agreed that the multi-sport games were to take place on a permanent basis in Nuremberg, where a planned German Stadium was to be built. Designed by Nazi architect Albert Speer as the party’s rally grounds, its construction began in 1937 and was supposed to be completed by 1943. Of course, like most Nazi monuments, it was never completed due to the outbreak of World War II.
Carl Diem had spoken prior to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and was noted for saying that only Germans can defeat other Germans. Of course, that didn’t turn out to be the case at all. According to sources, Hitler told the architect Speer that once the German Stadium was completed, there wouldn’t be anymore Olympic Games, just the Aryan Games. As with the Olympics, the Aryan Games were supposed to be held every four years, but of course, anyone who was not Aryan need not even try to enter.
It seems silly to state it, but these Games were never held because Germany lost World War II, putting an end to them before they began. So, not so much cancelled as never even really got off the ground.
Egyptian Premier League – 2011-12 Season
It was on February 1 of 2012 that the top Egyptian football teams of Al Masry and Al Ahly opposed each other in a league clash that was held at the Port Said stadium. However, disruptions were experienced from the very get-go. The game kicked off around 30 minutes later than it should have done, due to the fact that Al Masry fans decided it was a good idea to invade the pitch itself. After each of the Masry team’s second-half goals, the proceeded with doing the exact same thing once again, and the side secured a 3-1 victory.
Of course, being the winning side meant that the fans were once again exceptionally elated. This led to them once again charging at full steam onto the Port Said pitch following the final whistle. However, they took things one step further this time. Rather than simply celebrate, the Al Masry fans chose to attack the players from Al Ahly, who had to swiftly flee to the dressing room. To make up for the fact that there were no players on the pitch from the opposing side anymore, the fans turned on the Ahly fans. Knives and clubs were wielded, and people were even thrown off the stadium’s upper tier to the floor below.
The barbaric scenes saw 74 football fans lose their lives, and as a result of the carnage, the league was instantly suspended. On March 10, the whole thing was cancelled altogether. It also saw 10 of Masry’s fans sentenced to death under Egyptian law, while many others received prominent and lengthy prison sentences. Questions were raised over whether or not the attack was politically orchestrated by the government, although this remains unproven one way or the other to this day. That being said, angry players from the Al Masry team said that it was the Egyptian police who had incited the riot in the first place. Captain Karim Zekri and his twin brother Mohamed suggested that there was very strong evidence to support the theory that the bloodshed was outrightly planned beforehand.
Copa Sudamericana Finals of 2016
It was on November 28 that the Brazilian football team Chapecoense were to fly to Colombia for the first leg of the Copa Sudamericana final. There, they would face off against Atletico Nacional od Medellin. The flight took off, but at 21:43, the plane was put into a holding pattern right above Medellin airport. According to reports, it requested priority landing due to what was described by the pilot as “problems with fuel”. Nine minutes later, a fuel emergency was declared by the plane.
Only one minute later, the engines of the plane stopped, and it did not have sufficient height to clear the mountain range that blocked its landing path. A subsequent investigation found that the flight was carrying 2,700kg less fuel than it should have been to make the journey. A total of 71 people out of the 77 onboard the flight died from the resulting crash, including 19 out of the 22 Chapecoense players. Atletico Nacional then requested that the trophy of the Copa Sudamericana 2016 event be presented to Chapecoense, and it was officially announced that they were the champions of the tournament on December 5.
GIF Sundsvall Vs. Assyriska FF – Superettan 2013
Swedish football isn’t frequently at the height of popularity outside of its own borders, but it gained a little more attention in 2013. At the time, second-division side GIF Sundsvall was set to face off against Assyriska FF in the Superettan tournament. However, it turned out that one of the team’s players Kevin Walker (not very Swedish we know, but his father was Irish), could not attend in his midfielder position as normal.
While some thought it may have been due to him suffering an injury in training or something similar, that wasn’t the case at all. Instead, Walker had taken the decision to compete in that year’s season of Pop Idol in Sweden! Yet, as it happened, the broadcaster of the show TV4 also owned the rights to the football in the country. It was due to that fact that they had the football match postponed in order to cater to the player’s singing dreams.
As it happens, Walker went on to win the whole singing competition before moving back to his football duties. In March 2016, he started playing for Djurgårdens IF who would go on to become Swedish champions two years later after defeating Malmo FF 3-0 in the Swedish Cup Final. That success was replicated earlier on in 2020, too.