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Six Nations worry

Coronavirus concerns force Ireland-Italy postponement

Scotland fans in Rome (pic: SNS Group)

Next weekend’s Six Nations clash between Ireland and Italy in Dublin has been postponed amid fears over coronavirus.

The call-off comes after a meeting between the Irish government and the Irish Rugby Football Union and follows numerous towns in northern Italy being locked down. The corresponding women’s match and U20s fixture have also been postponed.

A statement from the IRFU said: “At the outset we made it clear that the IRFU was supportive of the government’s need to protect public health in relation to the coronavirus.

“We were then advised, formally, that the National Public Health Emergency team has determined that the series of matches should not proceed, in the interests of public health. The IRFU is happy to comply with this instruction.

“We will immediately begin to work with our Six Nations partners to look at the possibility of rescheduling the matches and would hope to have an update on this in the coming days.”

The Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to around a dozen towns currently quarantined in the Lombardo and Veneto regions in the north of Italy.

Thousands of Scotland fans have recently returned from Rome after watching Gregor Townsend’s side earn their first win of the championship against Italy on Saturday, although the women’s match which was due to go ahead 24 hours later was called off.

At the moment there has been no health warnings issued to anyone at the Stadio Olimpico, where Scotland emerged 17-0 victors.

The spread of coronavirus has hit other sporting events with Japan’s J-League postponing all domestic football games until the middle of next month. Five matches in the next set of fixtures in Italy’s Serie A are to be played behind closed doors.

Next month’s World Short Track Speed Skating Championships, due to take place in Seoul, South Korea, have been cancelled, while the World Table Tennis Championships which were also due to take place in South Korea in March have been put back to June.

Preparations for the summer Olympics in Tokyo continue, however, with officials stating it’s ‘business as usual’ as regards the hosting of the sporting spectacular in July.

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