Six Nations under threat from coronavirus but not Olympics, organisers say

Irish rugby chiefs are to meet the country’s health minister this lunchtime after he called for next month’s Six Nations game against Italy to be called off over fears of spreading coronavirus.
Simon Harris is due to discuss the matter with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) at noon.

According to Mr Harris, the country’s Public Health Emergency team said on Tuesday the fixture would be “a significant risk because a very large number of people would be travelling from what is now an affected region”.

Ten people have died in Italy due to the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University in the US, which is compiling data on the outbreak, while there are more than 320 confirmed cases in the country. Italian health authorities put the number of deaths at 11.
Scotland Women’s match in Italy on Sunday was cancelled and is yet to be rearranged, while two club rugby matches involving Italian sides were also called off.


Six Nations organisers have said they are in close contact with the IRFU.

Japan has insisted the Tokyo Olympics will not be affected by the outbreak after a veteran Olympic official said the games could be cancelled.

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Dick Pound, a former International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president, said a decision on July’s event would have to be made within three months.
“You could certainly go to two months out if you had to. A lot of things have to start happening. You’ve got to start ramping up your security, your food, the Olympic Village, the hotels, the media folks will be in there building their studios,” he said.

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But, for the time being, the Canadian added, preparations were a case of “business as usual”.
Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga dismissed Mr Pound’s comments.
“The IOC is proceeding with preparations toward the games as scheduled,” he said.

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But despite that stance, the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, asked organisers of large sports and cultural events to either suspend, postpone or reduce attendance for the next two weeks to help stop the spread of the illness.
In a separate development, Japan’s top division of the professional football league has said it will postpone all matches until mid-March.
More than 81,000 cases of COVID-19 have been declared globally, while more than 2,700 people have died and more than 30,000 people who contracted the disease have recovered.
Japan has a total of 860 cases, the third highest behind China and South Korea, including 691 passengers and crew from the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama harbour.

Image: Venice’s carnival was cancelled due to COVID-19

Italian towns in lockdown
European football is also being affected, with four Serie A fixtures postponed over the weekend and a Europa League game in Milan to be played behind closed doors on Thursday.
Reports in Italy claim Juventus’ top-of-the-table clash with Inter on Sunday could be among several fixtures played in empty stadiums this weekend as regional restrictions are extended.

Source : Sky News