England’s game with Italy had already been postponed due to the outbreak, but now it has been decided to suspend France vs Ireland and Wales vs Scotland until later in the year.
Four games remain – with Ireland still to play Italy as well – as the competition deals with the crisis.
This weekend’s games have left a number of possibilities with England, Ireland and France all still in contention to win it.
England won the Triple Crown with victory over Wales on Saturday and France’s defeat to Scotland on Sunday opened things up for Eddie Jones’s side and Ireland.
French website Rugby Rama, part of the Eurosport brand, reports that a phone call this morning confirmed the situation with an official announcement expected later today.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is chairing an emergency cobra meeting today to discuss the plans for the country which is likely to include plans for the remainder of the Premier League season.
Mr Johnson was in attendance for England’s win over Wales on Saturday but there is now a real threat of sports matches either being played behind closed doors, or being cancelled altogether.
Another possible outcome is that over 70s are banned from matches – which would be difficult to implement and would cause problems for Crystal Palace in particular, who are managed by 72-year-old Roy Hodgson.
The culture secretary and Tory Cabinet minister Oliver Dowden spoke on BBC Radio 5 Live, and said: “At this stage we are not in the territory of cancelling or postponing events and I don’t expect that to be the case after today.
“I was at Twickenham [watching England v Wales rugby in the Six Nations] with the Prime Minister. There was a huge crowd of people there. There’s no reason why people should not be going to those sort of events. I think it’s very premature to be talking about that sort of thing.”
He added: “Certainly the Cheltenham Festival should be going ahead.”
Despite Dowden’s views the Indian Wells tennis tournament in California was postponed with the Miami Open now in doubt.
The Chinese Grand Prix has already been cancelled while the Bahrain race will take place without spectators.
Serie A football matches in Italy are being played behind closed doors despite calls to cancel the season entirely.
The Cheltenham Festival is due to get underway on Tuesday with a number of new measures introduced to keep fans safe.
A statement reads: “Cheltenham Racecourse will continue to follow advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Public Health England, as well as that of local government.”
Cheltenham is putting several procedures in place amid the threat of the virus.
There will be additional toilets and hand washing facilities and additional staff will operate in all toilet areas to ensure that soap and drying facilities are constantly available.
There will also be antibacterial hand gel mad available and dedicated hand sanitiser locations at the event.
Posters will be placed around the racecourse as a reminder of public health advice and how best to wash your hands to avoid contracting coronavirus.
Published at Mon, 09 Mar 2020 11:30:00 +0000