Coronavirus: Super Rugby suspended, after NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces everyone entering NZ must self-isolate

Super Rugby will be put on hold after this weekend's matches in the wake of New Zealand announcing that travellers entering the country must self-isolate for 14 days due to fears over the coronavirus outbreak.

SANZAAR, which runs the competition, says it "has no option but to suspend the 2020 Super Rugby tournament" for the foreseeable future after the Brumbies host the Waratahs on Sunday.

SANZAAR added that it would not be feasible to carry on with the competition, with five teams from the country participating.

The Highlanders were due to face the  Jaguares in Argentina on Sunday, but that match has since been cancelled. 

"The safety and welfare of the public, our players and other stakeholders is paramount and as previously stated we were always going to abide by government and health authority instructions on the issue of COVID-19 containment," chief executive Andy Marinos said.

"We are extremely disappointed for the players, our fans, broadcasters and partners but given the complexity of our competition structure, and the multiple geographies that we cover, we have no other option but to align with such directives.

"We also believe it is time for all those players currently overseas to return home and to be with their families."

The directive from New Zealand left the competition, involving teams from Argentina, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa, hamstrung after only seven completed rounds following this weekend. The event is based on 18 rounds of group matches, followed by knockout rounds and the final.

"Our priority is, therefore, to ensure our players are within their homes territories from the end of this weekend," Marinos continued.

"SANZAAR will also remain engaged with its stakeholders and will continue to explore avenues to see if we can keep the rugby product alive within our core markets, with the possibility to be in a position to resume the tournament if at all possible in future weeks."

The statement further said that the organisers hoped to devise a plan for the remaining fixtures that would be communicated in the coming days.

Dutch F1 Grand Prix set to be axed 

The coronavirus outbreak continues to affect the world of sport with the Dutch Grand Prix set to be the next race pulled from Formula One's schedule.

There were conflicting messages as to when the new F1 season might start after this weekend's curtain-raiser in Australia was cancelled, with subsequent races in Bahrain, Vietnam and China postponed.

F1's governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), issued a statement to indicate the campaign could get under way at the beginning of May - in time for the race in the Netherlands.

Dutch driver Max Verstappen.
Dutch driver Max Verstappen. Photo credit: Getty

F1, however, said the end of May is now the target. And it is understood that the Dutch round, scheduled for May 4 will be postponed. Official confirmation is expected at the start of next week.

It is hoped that the Zandvoort race, which returns to the calendar after an absence of 35 years, could be moved to August, with the sport's traditional summer break scrapped.

The Spanish Grand Prix, due to take place a week after the race in the Netherlands on May 10 is also set to be called off. It is unclear whether it will be rescheduled.

The majority view of the sport's travelling circus is to delay the campaign until the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, pencilled in for June 7, at the earliest, with the possibility of as many as 18 races crammed into six months.

However, the situation remains fluid with huge uncertainty around the long-term impact of COVID-19.

International Triathlon Union suspends all events until April 30

The International Triathlon Union (ITU) has suspended all activity until April 30 including all events in the World Triathlon and Continental calendars due to the coronavirus outbreak, the governing body said on Sunday. 

All world rankings, Olympic qualification rankings, paratriathlon rankings and Paralympic qualification rankings will be frozen from Monday as a result, it added.

"This is a decision that is hard to take and… we are taking it with the health and safety of athletes, coaches, officials, facilitators, staff, volunteers and spectators, all the triathlon family, as the top priority," ITU President Marisol Casado said in a statement.

"We are taking this decision convinced that we all have to take our part to prevent and stop the spread of the virus. It is our responsibility, as a society.

"Having our athletes, coaches, officials and staff traveling around the world at this challenging time is not something that we in World Triathlon are willing to risk."

More Italian footballers test positive for coronavirus 

On-loan Wolves forward Patrick Cutrone is one of two more Fiorentina players to test positive for coronavirus.

On Sunday Fiorentina confirmed that Cutrone, Argentine defender German Pezzella and physiotherapist Stefano Dainelli all had the virus.

Sampdoria midfielder Fabio Depaoli has also tested positive.

"Unfortunately I tested positive for COVID-19. I want to reassure you that I'm fine," the 22-year-old wrote.

One player at Juventus has also tested positive.

Other sporting events affected by the coronavirus epidemic this week, include:

  • Super Rugby has suspended the season, after NZ Prime Minister Jancinda Ardern annouced a 14-day isolation for overseas arrivals in New Zealand. 
  • The NRL could be forced to suspend their season due to Ardern's announcement.
  • The Blackcaps' Chappell-Hadlee series against Australia has been postponed .
  • The NRL will continue as normal, but starting on March 19, games will be played behind closed doors.
  • The US Masters at Augusta National has been postponed, the tournament's first postponement since World War II.
  • The Formula One season has been suspended until May with races in Bahrain and Vietnam postponed. The Dutch Grand Prix will likely be scrapped for the 2020 season. 
  • The start of the IndyCars season has bene pushed back until May. 
  • All games in England's Premier League, EFL, FA Women's Super League and Women's Championship are postponed, along with matches in Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland.
  • Germany's Bundesliga and France's Ligue 1 join the Dutch Eredivisie, Spannish La Liga and Portugal's Primeira Liga to suspend fixtures. 
  • The start of the Indian Premier League has been delayed. 
  • The Football Ferns' April 11 match against Japan has been cancelled. 
  • The Boston and London Marathons have been postponed until September and October respectively. 
  • The inaugural Piha Pro surfing event has been cancelled due to coronavirus. 
  • The Blackcaps' Chappell-Hadlee series against Austraia will be played behind closed doors. 
  • 'March Madness' - arguably the United States' biggest sporting event, along with the Super Bowl - has been cancelled.
  • Tennis' ATP Tour has shut down for six weeks. 
  • The Pro14 rugby season has been suspended indefinitely.
  • Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams was caught up in the US coronavirus scare, when the scheduled game between his Oklahoma City Thunder v Utah Jazz was abandoned just before tipoff.
  • The NBA has suspended the current season due to the coronavirus outbreak. Other American leagues include the NHL, MLS and MLR.
  • Black Sticks men and women will not travel to Europe for the latest round of Pro League games in Netherlands and Germany.
  • NZ Breakers and Tall Blacks star Corey Webster has been derailed for a second time, with the Italian basketball league closed down by the epidemic.
  • WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) has requested its performers decline handshakes with fans at autograph and meet & greet sessions.
  • All Six Nations rugby matches due to take place on March 15 and 16 have been postponed. Wales were due to host Scotland, Italy were facing England and France were hosting Ireland.
  • The Olympic flame lighting ceremony at ancient Olympia on March 19 will take place without spectators, only 100 accredited guests from the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organising committee.
  • FIFA 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers scheduled for March 23-31 and June 1-9 have been postponed.

More to come