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3 global events that cancelled sports around the world

Covid-19’s global impact has forced us to rethink our daily lives and consider a new normal way of living. Even our beloved sport, so often a source of escape from the word’s doom and gloom, wasn’t immune to the catastrophic effects of the virus. Sport around the world came to a collective halt when the virus swiftly took hold in March 2020 which, for many, was unprecedented. However, it isn’t the first time that sport has suffered due to a global event. Here are three events that cancelled sports around the world.


World War I – cancelled sports globally

World War I marked the world’s first truly global conflict and was the first time a worldwide event cancelled sports globally. Although other wars and conflicts certainly occurred before, the scale of the Great War was unprecedented.

The First World War also coincided with the rise of sport as a form of entertainment, with sports leagues in different countries establishing themselves. Shortly before the turn of the 20th century the first modern Olympic Games were also held.

The conflict lasted from 1914-1918 and affected numerous sports leagues in different countries. First-class Cricket was abandoned everywhere apart from India.

Meanwhile between 1915-1919 competitive football was cancelled in England. Many players signed up to join the war effort and their teams were depleted as a result which led to the suspension of the FA Cup and League Football.

Across the pond, Major League Baseball’s (MLB) 1918 season was cut short as the USA entered the war and also postponed the start of the following season. Notably, the Berlin Summer Olympics of 1916 was also cancelled as a direct result of the conflict.

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Spanish Flu – cancelled North American sport

The 1918 Flu pandemic, more commonly known as the 1918 Spanish Flu, is notable for its similarities to today’s Coronavirus pandemic which, as we know, cancelled sports for us for months. The virus ravaged the world between 1918-1920 infecting a total of 500 million people, which was a third of the Earth’s population at that time.

Much of the sporting calendar of 1918 was already altered due to the outbreak of the First World War. However the war itself expedited the spread of the virus as hundreds of thousands of troops began their journeys home. This led to the continued cancellations of many sports.

Notably in the USA, MLB’s 1919 season had to postpone its start as the virus hit the country hard. The National Hockey League (NHL) also famously stopped play in the middle of the famous Stanley Cup Series of 1919 as players from both teams were stricken with the illness. It still marks the only year the NHL does not have a champion listed.


World War II – cancelled major international competitions

The world was yet again plunged into global conflict with the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The conflict changed everyday life and lasted until 1945. However, sports role as a morale booster was becoming clearer and, when the Second World War took hold, leagues around the world made an effort to continue despite the conflict.

However, the Second World War’s advanced technology and increased global reach meant that major sporting events were still disrupted, notably the Summer and Winter Olympic games of 1940 and 1944 which were cancelled. This is the only time in the game’s history that the event was cancelled completely.

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Football’s World Cup competition, which only began in the decade prior, also had two of its tournaments cancelled; the 1942 World Cup and the 1946 World Cup. The Second World War was also the last time the Masters Golf Championship was cancelled before 2020’s Coronavirus pandemic. The Green Jacket remained in the closets of Augusta from 1943-1945.



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