17/03/2020 - 14:28

More sport cancelled over COVID-19 concerns

17/03/2020 - 14:28

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This year’s Margaret River Pro surfing competition has been cancelled, while Cricket Australia has suspended the remaining Sheffield Shield series and the AFL is due to make a decision tomorrow on whether Round 1 will proceed this week.

The World Surf League has postponed all events scheduled through til the end of May. Photo: WSL

This year’s Margaret River Pro surfing competition has been cancelled in light of ongoing concern over the coronavirus pandemic, while Cricket Australia has suspended the remaining Sheffield Shield series.

It comes as Western Australia’s confirmed COVID-19 cases grew to 31, with the state recording its biggest one-day surge yesterday, rising by 10 cases to 28.

The World Surf League said all of its surfing events scheduled through to the end of May, including the Margaret River Pro and Bells Beach surfing competitions, have been postponed or cancelled.

It follows a nationwide ban on mass gatherings of 500 or more people, announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week.

World Surf League chief executive Erik Logan said the league had come to a decision that was very difficult and yet clear.

“We’ve been in constant dialogue with world health leaders, experts, and in contact with many of the governments where we have partnerships, and they all have verified that unfortunately this crisis is continuing to accelerate,” Mr Logan said in a video published on the WSL website.

“The travel restrictions, quarantines and social lockdowns that many countries have enacted are likely to continue in the coming weeks.

“The WSL’s primary concern right now is for the health and safety of our athletes, fans and global employees.”

Mr Logan said the league was conscious of its responsibility in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

He said the 2020 championship and surf tours would begin as soon as possible.

“Right now, we have athletes everywhere – in Australia and beyond – who are very anxious for as much certainty as possible so that they can make plans and possibly return home to be with loved ones before travel becomes even more difficult,” Mr Logan said.

“We’re already hard at work doing scenario planning for what a reimagined 2020 tour might look like.”

The league named June as a likely time for the surf championship, given information it had received from health experts and agencies.

Meanwhile, both the Western Australian Cricket Association and Cricket Australia have recommended all premier and community cricket should cease for the remaining 2019-20 season.

It comes after the Marsh Sheffield Shield final was cancelled on Sunday in an effort to reduce travel.

NSW were declared champions by default after leading the competition through nine rounds, with Victoria second.

Cricket Australia had also recently banned spectators from Australia’s one-day series against New Zealand.

WACA said although cricket was a non-contact sport, considerable measures needed to be in place to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.

“Cricket Australia and the WACA have strongly recommended that all amateur cricket played within the community should cease, including Community Cricket and Premier Cricket,” WACA said.

Chief executive Christina Matthews said the decisions were made based on advice from state and federal health departments.

Recently, the AFL announced clubs would face each other only once after reducing the 2020 season from 23 rounds to 17.

The four-week final structure remains as scheduled but could stretch into October to allow for any delays in the season, the AFL said.

The league will make a call tomorrow on whether the full set of Round 1 matches will proceed. Richmond is due to play Carlton at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Thursday night.

No AFL players have tested positive for COVID-19.

The league said it would suspend the entire competition for a minimum of 14 days in the event that a player tested positive.

The reduced season is in addition to an announcement last week that AFL games would be played without spectators.

The NBA had also made a recent decision to play remaining grand final games behind closed doors.

Meanwhile, the Perth Football League has postponed the 2020 season until June 13 while Hockey WA has suspended all hockey competitions and events in the state until May 31.

The hockey league says it is receiving regular advice and updates from peak bodies including Hockey Australia and the state government's sport and health departments.

Hockey WA executive Stuart Gilsenan and president Garry Fitzpatrick said the season has not been cancelled.

"We will continue to review the situation and provide our community with regular updates," they said.

"It is not our intention to cause undue alarm or concern but rather to help our community to be as prepared as possible, and to be fit for hockey when we are able to return to training and games."

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