February 27, 2020 / 12:27 AM / a month ago

Sports-Super Rugby matches in Japan under 'discussion' due to coronavirus

WELLINGTON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Southern hemisphere rugby officials are in “advanced discussions” on the future of Super Rugby matches in Japan due to the coronavirus outbreak, the sport’s governing body said on Thursday.

Japan’s government asked on Wednesday for all sports and cultural events in the country to be scrapped or curtailed for the next two weeks due to the outbreak.

The directive has placed into doubt the March 8 clash in Osaka between the Japan-based Sunwolves and Australia’s ACT Brumbies, with future fixtures also under discussion, governing body SANZAAR said in a statement on Thursday.

“Advanced discussions have been held to adequately address this recent announcement by the Japanese government,” the organisation said.

“SANZAAR is now working to determine if this match can be relocated.

“SANZAAR will issue further details on the position of this match and any potential further disruptions in the near future.”

The Sunwolves play their home games in Japan and Singapore but are currently in New Zealand for a match against the Wellington Hurricanes in Napier on Saturday.

No-one involved with the Sunwolves had tested positive for the flu-like virus, SANZAAR said. Players and officials with the team are undergoing daily testing.

The potential cancellation or relocation of the game from Osaka would be the first Super Rugby match to be affected by the virus, although the Ireland-Italy Six Nations clash in Dublin on March 7 was postponed on Wednesday due to an outbreak in northern Italy.

The Hong Kong and Singapore legs of the Sevens World Series, originally scheduled for April, were last month also postponed until October to curtail the spread of the virus.

The virus originated in China late last year and has infected about 80,000 people worldwide and resulted in more than 2,700 deaths, mostly in mainland China.

It has already forced the cancellation, postponement or relocation of several other sporting events in Asia, including the world indoor athletics championships that were scheduled for Nanjing from March 13-15.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; editing by Richard Pullin

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