Yesterday we reported on the strange phenomenon of early morning live sport emanating from Australia, especially as the men's AFL season kicked into gear this weekend. Games were played behind closed doors, and the AFLW was attempting to finish its season, playing the third last round of games yesterday and today. The NRL (Australian Rugby League) had also began their began their second round of fixtures as their season got under way.
We talked about the heroics of Irish players Kate Flood and Aileen Gilroy, and the bad luck of Cora Staunton, whose GWS Giants were knocked out by a cruel last second goal.
Now, just 24 hours later, it appears that it won't be just Staunton who will be returning home. The AFL has postponed the men's competition and immediately canceled the AFLW, meaning there won't be a conclusion to the 2020 season.
It seemed inevitable that the Australian sport would follow the lead of the rest of the world and cancel games completely, though there was a determination to keep going for as long as possible behind closed doors.
The AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan described the coronavirus as the most serious threat to the game in a century.
To say this is the most serious threat to our game in 100 years is an understatement. It is unprecedented in its impact.
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.
I know that everyone involved in our game and our millions of supporters will be impacted by this decision and that many people will suffer significant hardship as are people right across the community but I also know that we all have a responsibility to the community and each other. And we have the will to work collectively to overcome this crisis.
The move comes after the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced further travel restrictions in response to the outbreak, making the playing of a national league almost impossible.
Australia's other major sporting league, the NRL meanwhile have reaffirmed their commitment to continuing on in the wake of the AFL decision.
NRL CEO Todd Greenberg believes the league can continue given current government measures.
At this stage, our intent is to play on and we remain committed to the continuation of the 2020 season as far as government advice allows it.
Our number one priority is to protect our players, staff and fans and we will continue to do this by adopting the strictest possible medical protocols.
"However, we understand the pace of the crisis is escalating rapidly and we need to remain flexible and conscious of community expectations.
The NRL has teams in just three states in the east of Australia, while the AFL covers five states across the country. Even so, it will be interesting to see how long rugby league can hang on, the bastion of live sport out there during these terrible times.
Football's A-League also continues for now though are expected to seek advise and make a new statement on the matter tomorrow.
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