Ireland’s Six Nations schedule has been disrupted with next month’s showdown against Italy set to be postponed due to the “significant risk” posed by coronavirus. Thousands of fans were poised to fly over to Dublin from Italy for the March 7 clash but it will have to be rescheduled due to fears the disease could be spread by the travelling supporters.
Irish minister for health Simon Harris said: “We’ll be publishing guidelines in relation to mass gatherings shortly.
“But we’ve obviously taken a decision in relation to the Ireland vs Italy rugby game. The very clear view of the Public Health Emergency Team was that the game should not go ahead, that it would constitute a significant risk because a very large number of people would be travelling from what is now an infected region.
“So now my department will be contacting the IRFU in relation to this. I know it will come as a great disappointment to many, but it is important to make decisions about public health above and beyond all other considerations.”
Ireland are currently in the running to win the Six Nations title and sit joint-second with England behind table-topping France.
The postponement of the Italy match might not be an issue, however, if France beat Scotland next week and then overcome Ireland in Paris six days later.
Ireland, and indeed England’s, hopes of securing Six Nations glory now depend on France slipping up in their remaining fixtures.
Ireland’s fate could be determined in a rearranged game later this year in that case, with their home games from the 2001 Six Nations campaign being moved to autumn due to the Foot and Mouth crisis.
A Rugby Football Union spokesperson said the Irish decision “does not change the position at the moment” regarding England’s game in Italy on March 14.
- Olympics chief Dick Pound warns Japan of need to win coronavirus ‘war’
International Olympic Committee chief Dick Pound warned on Tuesday that Japan needs to get a handle on coronavirus ahead of this summer’s Olympics.
“This is the new war and you have to face it,” Pound said, adding that by late May “folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo, or not?'”
Pound said: “It’s a big, big, big decision and you just can’t take it until you have reliable facts on which to base it.
“You just don’t postpone something on the size and scale of the Olympics. There’s so many moving parts, so many countries and different seasons, and competitive seasons, and television seasons. You can’t just say, we’ll do it in October.”
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