COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

On 11th March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways and is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

Most nations now have or have had measures in place to limit the spread of the virus. These include advice on regular hand-washing to and limiting contact with other people – for example avoiding shaking hands. However many nations have been forced to take more severe actions including cancelling all sport and other public events, closing schools, universities, shops and restaurants, and limiting travel – especially air travel between countries.

Virtus events that are impacted by the virus

The following events have been cancelled or postponed due to the virus:

  • European Winter Games – March 2020 (Italy): cancelled
  • World Skiing Championships – March 2020 (Italy): cancelled
  • Governing Board meeting – March 2020 (Brazil): to be held by video conference
  • Virtus Americas meeting & eligibility workshop – March 2020 (Brazil): cancelled
  • Eligibility workshops – June 2020 (Asia & Africa) – to be held by webinar
  • World Cycling Championships – July 2020 (Portugal) – cancelled
  • World Tennis Championships – July 2020 (Belgium) – cancelled
  • European Athletics/Swimming/Table Tennis Championships – August 2020 (Russia) – cancelled
  • European Football Championships – August 2020 (Poland) – postponed until 2021
  • World Half Marathon Championships – 2020 – cancelled

Events scheduled for 2021 and later are expected to go ahead as planned, however they may be subject to date changes. We will update this list should the situation change.

Athletes and member organisations are encouraged to liaise with the Local Organising Committee when planning entry to any future event, to purchase flexible airline tickets and to ensure adequate health and travel insurance is in place for the trip.

Virtus advice to athletes and member organisations
The most important advice is to follow the guidance issued by your national government or health authority. 

You can also follow the global advice and updates given by the World Health Organisation.

The International Paralympic Committee has further advice in respect of qualification events to Tokyo 2020.


The symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you’ve started coughing repeatedly
What you should do

There are simple steps that you can take to protect yourself from the virus.

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • always wash your hands when you get home or immediately before and after training
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • avoid close contact with people who are unwell
  • do not share water bottles
  • do not exchange objects (eg. towels) with other people and wipe down all equipment after training with an antibacterial spray

Should an athlete be selected for antidoping testing in the coming weeks, hand sanitizer should only be used after the test. Before testing, hands must be washed only with water in compliance with WADA regulation.


In March the Virtus Governing Board met by video call to ensure continuity. Much of the meeting focussed on strategic planning and we will be consulting with the membership in the weeks and months that follow, as we prepare for the new priorities that will guide and focus our work from 2021-2024.

As far as is practically possible, Virtus continues to maintain business as normal. However the Governing Board and staff are very conscious that some areas of the world and some members face particular difficulties at the current time, and our best wishes go to anyone who has been affected.