New Zealand shot putter Tom Walsh won't get a chance to defend his world indoor title in March, with the event in China postponed because of the outbreak.
The World Athletics Indoor Championships were scheduled to take place in Nanjing in March, but it has been postponed until 2021.
World Athletics had been monitoring the situation ahead of the 13-15 March event and decided to move it to next year as a precaution.
It said its medical team, which is contact with the World Health Organization (WHO), thought the spread of the virus was "still at a concerning level and no one should be going ahead with any major gathering that can be postponed".
World Athletics said it had considered relocating the event to another country but decided against that option because the spread of the virus outside China could have forced another postponement.
World Athletics added that it was working with the Nanjing organising committee to settle on a date to host the biennial event in 2021.
Tom Walsh is the two-time defending champion in the men's shot put event at the World Indoor Championships.
Dame Valerie Adams, fellow shot putters Jacko Gill and Madison-Lee Wesche and middle distance runner Nick Willis were all scheduled to compete at the event.
Athletics New Zealand High Performance Director Scott Goodman said some of his athletes had already voiced their concerns about competing in China.
"I've had a couple that had indicated to me that they wouldn't want to go, so we've got five that had qualified already and one of two of those had started to say will they go or not."
"Val and I (Goodman coaches Adams) had also had discussions but hadn't come to any conclusions, but we were hoping that the competition would get moved."
Goodman said they would have preferred that the event was switched.
"That's what I thought they would do, they've only got seven weeks notice but there are other venues around the world that are established that could have held it, but they've made the decision to postpone it so I assume they must have a lot of financial commiments to the people in Nanjing."
Goodman said the event was a major part of the athletes buildup to the Tokyo Olympics and they'll now attempt to find another competition to fill the gap.
There are 6,065 cases of the virus worldwide, all but some 70 in China, with 132 deaths in the country, according to the latest WHO figures.