Australian rules season stopped; more Olympics postponement calls
HAMBURG – Australian rules football suspended its men's league and cancelled the women's season amid the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday which also saw more calls for the Tokyo Olympics to be postponed.
Australian football's AFL league shut down as the the final first-round games were yet to be completed.
The National Rugby League and football's A-League were also likely to close for the time being after the three sports had originally taken place behind closed doors lately, with football's FFA body planning an announcement Monday.
"To say this is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years is an understatement. It is unprecedented in its impact," AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan said in a statement.
"It is unprecedented in the impact it is having on our game and the wider community, and as a community and as a code, we all need to take the unprecedented and required actions to get through this together."
Earlier Sunday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had announced that non-essential long-distance travel in the country should end, and state governments also imposed strict rules on travel and public gatherings.
The Global Athlete grouping meanwhile joined a growing number of individuals and organizations urging the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to postpone this summer's Tokyo Games.
"As the world unites to limit the spread of Covid-19 virus the IOC and IPC must do the same," it said. "Sport has a duty of care to protect their athletes. Public health must be a priority over sporting events."
The IOC and its president Thomas Bach are, for now, plowing on with their plans to hold the Games as scheduled between July 24 and August 9, and at least not saying in public when a final decision would be made.
Bach has said an outright cancallation would be unfair for athletes but has acknowledged they are looking at different scenarios as various National Olympic Committees (NOCs) as well as the powerful American athletics and swim federations want a postponement.
Meanwhile, former Real Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz died late Saturday at the age of 76 after testing positive for Covid-19. Sanz presided over the Spanish club between 1995 and 2000, a period in which the club won two European Cups.
Sanz' son Fernando, who played for Real Madrid, said on social media: "My father has just died. He did not deserve this ending. His family and Real Madrid were his passion."
In Italy, Paulo Dybala became the third player from Serie A champions Juventus to contract the virus, and so have AC Milan youngster Daniel Maldini and his father Paolo, the retired club legend who is now technical director at Milan.DPA