Coronavirus news, updates: NRL 2020, Scott Morrison, COVID-19, crowd bans, AFL 2020, Premier League, cricket news, NBA 2020, tennis
Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared his intentions to attend Cronulla’s round one NRL match against the Rabbitohs on Saturday just moments after outlining the Government’s advice to ban large crowd gatherings from next week.
The PM revealed his Government’s directive that all “non-essential gatherings” of 500+ people should be restricted or cancelled as of Monday during a nationally televised press conference on Friday afternoon.
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It comes as the NRL and AFL held crisis meetings to address the rapid global spread of the coronavirus, which has already shut down the Australian Grand Prix, the NBA and several high-profile sporting leagues worldwide.
“We will be advising against organised, non-essential gatherings of 500 persons or greater from Monday,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“These events that we are seeking to advise against and restrict are for non-essential gatherings.”
But as Australian sporting fans were left confused as to whether games would proceed in the immediate-term, the PM said he would be going to the footy to watch his beloved Sharks at ANZ Stadium on Saturday evening.
“I am going on Saturday because it might be the last chance for a while,” he said.
Here’s what we know about how the spread of coronavirus has affected sports across the globe.
Here’s what we know so far.
It is understood that the majority of teams decided against racing at Albert Park during talks held on Thursday night before a decision came at around 2am Friday morning (AEDT).
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel and Alfa Romeo’s Kimi Raikkonen both flew back to Europe on the same flight overnight after that news before official confirmation was made just after 10am on Friday (AEDT).
It comes as the NRL was set to hold a phone hook-up with all 16 clubs at 4pm Friday to confirm its plans for round one.
The NRL will hold a phone conference with all 16 clubs at 4pm after the Prime Minister’s hands down his recommendations at a press conference at 3pm.
And in a stunning turn of events Townsville Stadium had to be evacuated not because of coronavirus, but bizarrely due to a kitchen fire.
The AFL wants to proceed with Round 1 next week and play every game of the home and away season – for now.
But that’s been thrown into major doubt with the government told to ban all gatherings of more than 500 people across Australia.
The AFL is desperate to make sure Round 1 is played as planned, albeit in empty stadiums.
Foxfooty.com.au understands the working group charged with coordinating a response is leaning towards shutting the gates to grounds rather than placing a blanket cancellation on early season matches.
The ultra-cautious approach would be to announce the first four weeks of the season have been postponed or wiped, but the AFL sees this as a last resort.
A 2pm conference call with clubs was delayed as the AFL works overtime to come to a resolution of sorts by the end of the day.
The league will be guided by the government’s advice which advises against mass gatherings of 500 or more people, but if there is no clear direction to postpone games, the AFL will almost certainly push ahead.
Donovan Mitchell joined Rudy Gobert to become the second Utah Jazz player to test positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus), and some finger-pointing has already begun.
Gobert’s positive test on Thursday prompted the NBA to quickly suspend its season, with panic building among the teams that had recently faced the Jazz; all of those players asked to self-quarantine after news of the Frenchman’s test was released.
According to The Athletic, out of the 58 coronavirus tests that went out among Jazz players and personnel, only Mitchell’s came back positive.
Premier League officials have confirmed all of this weekend’s matches will proceed as scheduled, but serious developments could threaten the league’s ongoing viability.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has on Friday morning been confirmed as having tested positive to the virus.
Leicester City manager Brendan Rogers confirmed three of his players are being isolated from the rest of the side after showing coronavirus symptoms.
Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy has taken precautionary measures and is self-isolating in his Cheshire home after a family member fell ill.
A number of Gunners players have self-isolated after Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis contracted the coronavirus.
UEFA are in talks to suspend the Champions League, Europa League and Euro 2020 due to coronavirus fears.
The two biggest club football tournaments have been thrown into turmoil as the deadly bug has started to affect a number of teams involved.
Also on the table is this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament, with Wembley due to host the semi-finals and final.
Juventus’ squad have gone into quarantine after Daniele Rugani tested positive for the deadly bug.
Cristiano Ronaldo has told Juve he will not be returning from Madeira during the outbreak.
In an unprecedented move for the sport, foxsports.com.au understands the threat of coronavirus has forced Cricket Australia to lock the gates at the SCG on Friday and Sunday and then in Hobart on March 20.
Players and other relevant stakeholders were canvassed on the possibility of empty stadiums on Thursday.
Following these conversations, sources were left in no doubt that the governing body would implement the radical ploy, though it took until Friday morning for it to be made official.
It is understood this was primarily a Cricket Australia decision. No family or friends will be allowed in the ground, only broadcasters and accredited journalists.
2020 TOKYO OLYMPICS
A top Olympic official said on Wednesday contingency plans will need to be drawn up next month which could include delaying the Games by up to two years.
“The International Olympic Committee would be in trouble if there’s a cancellation. American TV rights alone provide them with a huge amount,” Haruyuki Takahashi told the Wall Street Journal.
The Olympics would likely be pushed into 2021 or 2022, rather than moved later into 2020, because of that funding from the United States.
NBC is the Olympic broadcaster in the US, and would not want its multi-billion investment in the Games to clash with its similarly large investment in the NFL, which begins its season in September.
The other major professional sports leagues in the US have followed the lead of the NBA and suspended competitions.
The NHL hockey and MLB basketball leagues both confirmed overnight their seasons were suspended.
Nick Kyrgios put it simply on Thursday: “Bro (crying laughing emoji) there isn’t going to be any tennis”.
The biggest tournament of the year outside of the Slams, Indian Wells, was cancelled earlier this week just days out from the start of qualifying.
The global outbreak has forced the ATP to suspend its men’s professional tennis tour indefinitely.
It means that all ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour events anticipated to occur up to and including the week of April 20 have been cancelled.
These include the Miami Open, U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships and Monte-Carlo Masters.
There are major questions over the French Open, which begins on May 24. France has temporarily banned all gatherings of over 1000 people.
At the very least, it’s likely the clay season will see cancellations. The Monte Carlo Masters are a month away, with the Barcelona Open a week after that.
The Rome Masters (May 10) is also in doubt given the heavy restrictions on movement placed in Italy at the moment.
The PGA Tour has cancelled the Players Championship.
“At this point – and as the situation continues to rapidly change – the right thing to do for our players and our fans is to pause,” the PGA Tour said in a statement.
The LGPA announced that its next three events on the LGPA Tour will be postponed: the Volvik Founders Cup, Kia Classic and ANA Inspiration.
I am fully committed to rescheduling these important events on our 2020 schedule, especially our first major, the ANA Inspiration,” said LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan.
At the moment, the PGA will be going ahead but without any fans present.
The PGA is not currently planning to cancel any events, with The Players Championship to begin on Friday at TPC Sawgrass in Florida.
The WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play is scheduled to be played in Austin in two weeks’ time – the same city that already saw the famous South by Southwest festival cancelled.
But PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan said on Tuesday “we fully expect that the tournament will be held in Austin.
“That tournament is two weeks away. We’re all in and making certain that we’re able to operate that event.”
It was reported the PGA Championship (May 14-17) could be moved from Harding Park in San Francisco to TPC Sawgrass, while prices are dropping for tickets to the Masters (April 9-12).
The Washington Post reported a four-round ticket at Augusta was available for $3990 via Stubhub, when the same ticket went for $6490 last year.
Meanwhile the European Tour has cancelled several events in Asia.
World rugby has been heavily affected by the coronavirus, with high profile games either postponed or moved around the globe.
Three men’s Six Nations fixtures in Europe have been postponed, along with numerous Pro14 games, while Super Rugby’s Sunwolves have been forced to move Japan home matches to Australia.
The Sunwolves will ‘host’ the Crusaders in Brisbane on Saturday.
A Super Rugby spectator at last weekend’s Rebels game has tested positive for coronavirus.
The man attended AAMI Park in Melbourne on Saturday for the Rebels fixture against the Lions.
“We are taking this matter very seriously and we are working with all relevant stakeholders to determine any potential consequences of his attendance,” Rebels chief executive Baden Stephenson said.
The Rebels have also postponed a fan day at Moorabbin Rugby Club on Saturday.
“The continued health and safety of our community must come first,” Stephenson said.
Rugby Australia and SANZAAR say they are working together to safeguard players, officials, support staff and fans.
At this stage round seven of Super Rugby will go ahead as planned, starting with the Chiefs v Hurricanes game in New Zealand on Friday.
“There is a lot of misinformation in the public about the virus and the most important advice for the rugby community is to follow the advice of the health authorities and focus on good hygiene practices as the best preventative measure,” RA’s chief medical officer Warren McDonald said.
“We are being guided by the advice from the authorities and have taken some additional steps with regards to the monitoring of players and staff within our organisations and will continue to communicate the latest developments and make information available to those within our community.”