Ireland and Italy may have to wait to face off in the 2020 edition of the Six Nations as the ongoing coronavirus outbreak threatens to see more sporting events called off. Title hopefuls Ireland are due to play host to bottom-of-the-table Italy next month and will be desperate to get back to winning ways following last weekend’s defeat to England.
March 7’s Aviva Stadium showdown is in danger, though, with Irish minister for health Simon Harris admitting the fixture is one event under review.
“This situation is evolving,” Harris said. “There will be some big decisions that have to be made in the coming days including mass gatherings.
“Most particularly, I’m thinking of the Ireland-Italy rugby game that’s due to take place in the not-too distant future.”
Ireland’s Six Nations campaign back in 2001 was disrupted by the Foot and Mouth crisis which swept across Britain and the Emerald Isle.
Ireland had to play their home fixtures the subsequent autumn, with England ultimately running out as champions that year.
Last weekend’s women’s Six Nations match between Italy and Scotland was called off over coronavirus fears on the continent.
Ulster and the Ospreys’ upcoming Pro14 games in Italy scheduled for the coming weekend have already been cancelled.
Serie A games have been postponed too, while the upcoming Chinese Grand Prix will have to be rescheduled for later this year after chiefs pulled the plug on it.
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The 2020 Olympics are due to take place in Tokyo but Team GB’s deputy chef de Mission Paul Ford says there is no cause for concern.
“We’re following the situation, working closely with all the appropriate authorities,” he said. “But everything we’re hearing is that the Games are on track and will happen in the summer.
“We’re five months away so it’s a long period of time. There’s no point getting into a hypothetical discussion around ifs, buts and maybes.
“We are reassured it is being absolutely taken to the highest level inside Japanese government, IOC and World Health authorities to ensure what is right and appropriate for everyone.”
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