Super Rugby matches at risk of cancellation due to coronavirus

SANZAAR is closely monitoring the outbreak of coronavirus in Japan, with Super Rugby matches involving the Tokyo-based Sunwolves at risk of cancellation if the situation escalates.

The news comes as the J.League announced the cancellation of soccer matches in Japan, the table tennis world championships in South Korea were postponed and question marks were raised over whether a Six Nations rugby fixture in Italy would go ahead.

Commuters in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. Credit:Bloomberg

The virus originated in China, with 2600 people now confirmed dead and more than 80,000 infected worldwide.

The news could affect Super Rugby teams travelling to Japan to face the Sunwolves, but SANZAAR, the southern hemisphere governing body that oversees the competition, says there are no plans at this stage to cancel matches.

The Sunwolves are away to the Hurricanes in Napier this weekend before hosting a clash against the Brumbies on March 8 in Osaka.

SANZAAR said the match is expected to go ahead and the Brumbies, who had a meeting about the issue on Wednesday, said they were under the same impression.

“SANZAAR is cognisant of what is happening and taking advice from medical authorities and government but at this stage it’s business as usual,” a spokesperson told the Herald.

SANZAAR has been closely monitoring the increasingly serious situation in Asia and is ready to act if necessary at short notice. Consultation has been had with the World Health Organisation.

The information it has from the Japan Rugby Football Union is that domestic sport will continue to run as per normal but news about the J.League could prompt an urgent re-think.

SANZAAR officials have a board meeting early next month where they will discuss the issue, however one would expect contingency plans to be put in place if the spread of the virus continues.

The Queensland Reds (April 5) and NSW Waratahs (May 8) have upcoming games against the Sunwolves at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo.

Rugby has already been affected by coronavirus, with the upcoming Hong Kong and Singapore Sevens tournaments postponed until October.

There are also reports an England and Italy Six Nations match could be moved due to an outbreak in Italy that has resulted in domestic rugby and soccer matches being cancelled.

Meanwhile, the world table tennis titles in South Korea, scheduled for March 22 to 29 in the southern city of Busan, have been pushed back provisionally to June 21 to 28.

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