Coronavirus fears continue to impact this year’s Six Nations fixtures across the board with England’s clash in Italy the latest affected.
It was announced earlier this week that England’s fifth-round fixture against Italy to be held in Stadio Plebiscito in Padua had been postponed. The same decision had been applied to England’s U20 and men’s fixtures with Six Nations organisers unable to give an indication of when the match was likely to be held.
The postponement followed the news that the Italian government had ordered all sporting fixtures in Italy to be held behind closed doors. The policy will be in place until 3 April as part of measures to contain the outbreak which has seen nearly 4,000 coronavirus cases confirmed in Italy.
In a statement, Six Nations organisers revealed postponed matches would be played as soon as possible but gave no estimation of when the games would be played.
“As previously stated, Six Nations fully intends to complete all 15 games across all three championships when time allows. We will refrain from making any rescheduling announcements while we keep assessing the situation.”
“We remain fully supportive of any preventative measures taken in the interests of overall public health in relation to the Coronavirus and we will respect instructions provided by government authorities and health organisations.”
Italy were set to play their fourth-round fixture against Ireland on Sunday at Energia Park in Dublin but the decision was made by the Six Nations to postpone this fixture too.
As things stand, Ireland’s fixtures away to France near Lille are likely to go ahead despite the French government deciding to ban gatherings of over 5,000 people in confined areas.
Clearly, the spread of coronavirus is having an unprecedented impact on a huge number of sporting events across Europe. The Six Nations is in the unique position of having already begun before the virus spread to Europe leaving tournament organisers to face difficult decisions about whether fixtures should be played or postponed.
Fans, however, are left asking: when, if ever, “will time allow” for these fixtures to be played?
It remains a waiting game to see whether these postponed fixtures will happen in the coming weeks or even perhaps months.
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