Sport at local, national and international level has been hit by more disruptions because of the coronavirus.
Some of the world’s biggest competitions have been forced to temporarily shut down as the planet tries to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Here’s a look at the latest developments, with a full list of sports impacted at the bottom of this article.
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3PM – A-LEAGUE UNDER THREAT
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s announcement of strict border restrictions on Sunday will throw the A-League under even more pressure to suspend or cancel the remainder of the season.
Wellington Phoenix, who host Melbourne Victory on Sunday afternoon at Sky Stadium, are already expected to shift all home games to Australia following this round.
But PM Morrison’s announcement that all arrivals into Australia (from midnight tonight) would be forced to self-isolate for 14 days would force the cancellation of at least four A-League games – unless both Wellington and Melbourne Victory can make it back to Australia before the new rules begin.
Those matches are Wellington’s clash with Sydney FC on Wednesday and with Newcastle Jets on Sunday the 22nd, as well as Melbourne Victory’s home match with Brisbane Roar next Sunday (22nd) and away to Perth Glory the following Sunday (29th).
The Wellington v Victory match is expected to go ahead as scheduled, with an FFA announcement on the future of the competition anticipated for late Sunday night or early Monday.
SUNDAY 10:15AM – AFL CLUBS ASKING FANS TO KEEP BACKING THEM
The AFL is still planning on opening its season next Thursday, but Melbourne has become the latest club to ask its fans to keep supporting them through the coronavirus pandemic.
With clubs heavily supported by memberships, an open letter from the Demons’ chairman and CEO, Glen Bartlett and Gary Pert, have asked their fans to keep the faith through a tough period.
“As you are aware, an enormous amount of work has gone into our club to set ourselves up to challenge for the ultimate prize in the coming years,” the letter said.
“What will be so very important during these times is your continued loyalty, support and commitment to the club and the players we all love.
“What we would like to ask is for you to maintain your loyalty, to support us like never before and to retain your membership, while encouraging others to do so. The harsh reality is that we really need your support during this time of significant financial challenge.”
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SUNDAY 9:30AM – SHEFFIELD SHIELD’S FINAL ROUND CANCELLED
Another domino has fallen on the cricket field, as Cricket Australia respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
The final round of the Sheffield Shield has been called off, with a decision to be made on the final in due course.
It comes after the cancellation of the Australia vs New Zealand series.
SUNDAY 6AM – SERIE A OUTBREAK INCREASES AS MORE SPORTS HALT
Sampdoria midfielder Fabio Depaoli has announced he’s tested positive for COVID-19.
He’s the 10th Serie A player confirmed positive and the sixth at Sampdoria. While Sampdoria said in a statement earlier Saturday that it would not announce any more updates about its players “to avoid news leaks and useless alarmism” since “all the lads are well,” Depaoli revealed his positive test on social media.
Depaoli writes in Italian on Instagram, “Unfortunately I’ve tested positive for COVID-19. But I want to reassure you that I’m OK! This invisible monster is hitting us indiscriminately, but by adopting the correct measures and following medical advice, we can win our biggest match and return stronger than before.”
The five other Sampdoria players who tested positive are: Manolo Gabbiadini, Omar Colley, Albin Ekdal, Antonino La Gumina and Morten Thorsby. The other Serie A players who tested positive are Daniele Rugani at Juventus and Fiorentina teammates Dusan Vlahovic, German Pezzella and Patrick Cutrone.
Lionel Messi has joined a call in Spain by sports figures, who are supporting a public awareness campaign by government authorities and healthcare workers asking the nation’s population to remain indoors to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
“It is the moment to act responsibly and to stay home,” Messi wrote on Instagram on Saturday.
The Barcelona star added: “We are worried by what is happening and we want to help by putting ourselves in the place of those who are having the most difficulties, either because they or their families or friends are directly affected, or because they are working on the frontline in hospitals.”
Spain is tightening controls on movement and closing shops as it struggles to stem a peak in virus infections that has surpassed 5,000 people.
Meanwhile NFL clubs have been instructed to avoid all in-person contact with prospects ahead of next month’s NFL draft, according to a posting on the league’s web site.
In a memo to all 32 teams, the league instructed clubs to stop visits to team facilities by prospects as of Friday.
– AP, AFP
SATURDAY 5PM – NZ TRAVEL BAN TO CAUSE CHAOS
The NRL, A-League and Super Rugby seasons have been put in major doubt after New Zealand announced a travel ban, effective from midnight on Sunday.
Following this round of A-League, Wellington Phoenix will be based in Australia.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg will address the media later this evening.
Every person entering NZ from after this weekend will be required to enter self-isolation, with only the Pacific exempted from the measure.
The Warriors could therefore be forced to remain in Australia, according to Channel 9’s Danny Weidler.
The Warriors are due to host the Raiders in a double header with Super Rugby side the Blues taking on the Brumbies in Auckland next Saturday.
“I’ve had a number of discussions with the NRL this afternoon to discuss which options are available to us,” said Warriors CEO Cameron George.
“Obviously that’s going to create some significant challenges for opposing teams to come to
“We’re very conscious of the families, the boys involved, everyone has different circumstances.
“The most important thing for the fans and the game is we try to keep the competition going.”
SATURDAY 3PM – ARLC COMMISSION TO DISCUSS CONTINGENCY PLANS
The Australian Rugby League Commission will hold a 5pm phone hook-up on Saturday to discuss contingency plans on how rugby league can best handle the Coronavirus crisis.
ARLC Chairman Peter V’landys has confirmed the NRL will explore every possible option to keep the new season rolling despite other sports around the world being forced to postpone competitions.
One scenario being strongly pushed is staging a “Magic Month” of NRL games which would involve players all being tested and then quarantined from the Coronavirus.
All NRL games could then be played out of one stadium with Brisbane and Townsville both being discussed as options.
However this plan may have been ruined by the news of required self-isolation for all visitors to New Zealand, effective Sunday at midnight.
The ARLC and the NRL executives’ priority right now is to keep the new season up and running while taking every precaution possible to ensure player welfare.
SATURDAY 1:30PM – MATILDAS’ OLYMPIC PREPARATIONS UP IN THE AIR
Football Federation Australia (FFA) today confirmed that the international friendly between the Matildas and world No.8 Canada, scheduled for April 14 in Vancouver, BC, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
FFA and Canada Soccer have been in regular discussions regarding the fixture, and in light of developments in both Australia and Canada over the past days, the decision has been made to cancel the game.
It’s another blow for Ante Milicic’s Tokyo Olympics preparations after the match against the reigning, and four-time, world champion USA on April 10 in Sandy, Utah was scrapped earlier this week.
SATURDAY 10AM — MORRISON CANCELS TRIP TO SHARKS GAME
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to Saturday evening’s Sharks vs Rabbitohs game — despite just announcing a ban on non-essential mass gatherings — but changed his tune after severe backlash.
“After further consideration and the potential for the prime minister’s attendance to be misrepresented, the prime minister has chosen not to attend the match this weekend,” a spokesman said late Friday night.
Anthony Albanese, the Opposition Leader who’s an avid Rabbitohs supporter, also decided not to attend the same match.