COVID-19: ICC tournament axed this year; could have featured Liverpool, Man United

Tottenham Hotspur players congratulate Harry Kane (right) after the striker scored the winning goal in their International Champions Cup match against Juventus at the National Stadium in 2019. (PHOTO: Zainal Yahya/Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Fans of top European football clubs will not be able see them in action at the National Stadium this July, after the International Champions Cup (ICC) organisers confirmed that it will not take place in Asia this summer.

The annual pre-season tournament – which has been staged in Singapore since 2017 and has featured the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Inter Milan – becomes the latest sporting event in Singapore to be affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak.

According to The Straits Times, the three teams tentatively being lined up for this year’s tournament, had it not been cancelled, would have been runaway English Premier League (EPL) leaders Liverpool, their arch-rivals Manchester United, and German giants Borussia Dortmund – the former club of Reds boss Jurgen Klopp.

ICC organisers Relevent Sports Group said on Friday (28 February) that they made the decision after “weeks of consultation with various partners”.

“The health and safety of fans, clubs, players, staff and partners are our top priority and we believe this is in the best interests of all parties involved,” it added in response to queries from The Straits Times.

It is believed the ICC tournament could still proceed in the United States.

Cancellation follows disruptions to other sports events

The ICC's cancellation follows disruptions to two major events here. The HSBC Women's World Championship tournament, originally to be held this week, has been called off, while the Singapore Rugby Sevens in April was pushed back to October.

These are part of a worldwide trend as the epidemic had seen more than 83,000 cases globally with a death toll of over 2,800.

Formula One's Chinese Grand Prix was cancelled, as were several international golf tournaments in the region. Other events such as the World Team Table Tennis Championships and World Athletics Indoor Championships have been postponed, while the Chinese Super League football competition has been suspended indefinitely.

More than 300,000 fans watch tournament since 2017

Since the ICC was first staged here in 2017, more than 300,000 fans have watched top European teams and world-class footballers live in the Republic.

Last year’s tournament featured Man United, Tottenham Hotspur, Juventus and Inter Milan in two matches over a weekend. Both matches drew sold-out crowds at the National Stadium.

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