Super Rugby organizers decided on Saturday to suspend the competition indefinitely after the weekend's games because New Zealand players returning home from matches overseas faced being forced into self-isolation for two weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
SANZAAR, the body that runs Super Rugby, said the tournament would be off for the "foreseeable future" with only seven of 18 rounds of the regular season completed.
The decision was prompted by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcement that people entering the country from trips overseas, including returning New Zealand citizens, would have to self-isolate for 14 days from midnight Sunday. Only travelers from a handful of Pacific Island nations were exempted.
That decision would make the cross-border Super Rugby competition untenable, with the tournament featuring teams from five nations, including five teams from New Zealand. Teams from Australia, Japan, South Africa and Argentina also play in Super Rugby, which runs from January to June. All five countries have confirmed coronavirus cases.
"The safety and welfare of the public, our players and other stakeholders is paramount and as previously stated we were always going to abide by government and health authority instructions on the issue of COVID-19 containment," SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said.
"We are extremely disappointed for the players, our fans, broadcasters and partners but given the complexity of our competition structure, and the multiple geographies that we cover, we have no other option but to align with such directives. We also believe it is time for all those players currently overseas to return home and to be with their families."
There were still three games in the round to be played when the suspension announcement came -- in South Africa, Argentina and Australia.
The matches in South Africa and Australia went ahead but the match in Buenos Aires between Argentina's Jaguares and New Zealand's Highlanders, which was to be played without spectators, was cancelled late Saturday.
The Highlanders will not be able to return to New Zealand before the midnight Sunday deadline, meaning players, coaches and support staff will have to self-isolate for 14 days.
An earlier game on Saturday was moved out of Tokyo because of the virus outbreak.
Apart from the Jaguares-Highlanders, fans were allowed to attend all other matches in the round. But Australia had decided stadiums would be closed to fans from next week. That move was now redundant.
The game moved out of Tokyo featured the defending champion Crusaders, one of the New Zealand teams, against the Tokyo-based Sunwolves. It was relocated to Brisbane, Australia, where the Crusaders were reduced to 13 men in the last 15 minutes but won 49-14.
A scratch Crusaders lineup lacked the cohesion at first to break down the Sunwolves defense. Fullback George Bridge brought a touch of class, providing the last pass in tries to Sevu Reece and Tom Christie that gave the Christchurch-based Crusaders a 14-7 halftime lead.
The Crusaders started the second half with a try but the Sunwolves replied with a fine solo try to flyhalf Garth April to keep the game close at 21-14 after 55 minutes.
Reece's second and a try to Sione Havili gave the Crusaders a 35-14 lead before they were reduced to 14 men when replacement Hugh Roach was shown a red card for elbowing. They were down to 13 men when Reece received a yellow card but still managed two more tries.
In the most significant on-field action, the Durban-based Sharks held their nerve to beat the Stormers 24-14 and reclaim their place at the top of the overall standings ahead of the Crusaders.
Replacement Paul de Wet's try after a midfield burst by No. 8 Juarno Augustus lifted the Stormers from 13-7 down to 14-13 up.
Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch kicked the home team ahead again — with one penalty landed from well over 50 meters — and winger Makazole Mapimpi sealed it a minute from the end by racing clear and into the left corner.
The Sharks lead the Crusaders by a point. It's unclear when the tournament will resume and their lead can be challenged.
The decision to stop games is in line with numerous other sports leagues and tournaments across the world which have been suspended or canceled because of the virus outbreak.
Earlier Saturday, winger Rieko Ioane scored two tries as the Auckland-based Blues overran South Africa's Lions 43-10, posting their first home win of the season.
The match continued a major revival for Ioane, who lost his All Blacks starting spot at last year's Rugby World Cup in Japan. The Blues last won the Super Rugby title in 2003 but are beginning to shape as title contenders.
At Brisbane, in the second half of the doubleheader that included the Crusaders-Sunwolves game, the Queensland Reds came back from a 17-0 deficit after 20 minutes to beat the Pretoria, South Africa-based Bulls 41-17.
The Reds scored scored three tries in each half to claim just their second win of the season.
Only 7,335 fans turned out for the two matches in Brisbane, with many heeding virus-linked warnings about large gatherings ahead of an Australian government edict banning non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday.
As the IOC attempts to keep the 2020 Olympics on schedule, many of the events that determine who would compete in Tokyo have been postponed or canceled.
Here is the status of U.S. or world qualifying in many of the Olympic disciplines:
The U.S. Olympic track and field trials are still scheduled for June 19-28 in Eugene, Oregon. Other countries use a variety of methods, including trials, world rankings, and appointment based on results.
Four countries — Israel, Mexico, South Korea and host Japan — are in the six-team field. The final two spots are to be determined by tournaments that were postponed: An Americas qualifier in Arizona has been indefinitely postponed, and a last-chance qualifying tournament in Taiwan slated for April is now scheduled for June 17-21.
Men: Eight teams, including the United States, have already qualified. The remaining spots in the 12-nation field will be determined in four winner-take-all, six-team tournaments scheduled from June 23-28 in Serbia, Canada, Croatia and Lithuania.
Women: The 12-team field was filled in February with four tournaments. Although defending world champion United States and the host Japanese were already guaranteed spots, both finished in position to qualify anyway.
3x3: FIBA has postponed the qualifying tournament scheduled for March 18-22 in India. A second qualifying tournament scheduled for April in Hungary is in limbo. Four women's teams and four men's teams have already qualified for the eight-country fields.
Most Olympic spots are earned over a two-year points race on the international tour. At least three of the final 10 events have been canceled or postponed, and the final event is scheduled for Rome on June 9-14.
Two of the four regional Olympic qualification tournaments have already taken place, and the third for European fighters began Saturday in London. The Americas qualifier scheduled for March 26 in Buenos Aires has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, and organizers haven't set a plan for the final steps in qualification, including the last-chance World Olympic Qualifying Tournament scheduled for May 13 in Paris.
The selection criteria is different for each discipline: BMX freestyle and racing, mountain biking, track cycling, and the road race and time trials. Each discipline has a series of automatic qualification standards, and a committee will choose athletes to fill out the U.S. team. The world championships May 30-31 in Houston is crucial for BMX, and at this point is still scheduled. The last Olympic qualification event in freestyle BMX, the World Series in Hiroshima April 3-5, has been postponed. Final rosters for each discipline are announced in June.
Dozens of divers have already qualified based on their performances at last summer's world championships or other major meets over the last eight months. The last big qualifier is the Diving World Cup, set for the new Olympic aquatics venue in Tokyo on April 21-26; FINA is still considering whether to proceed. U.S. divers also must get through the national trials in Indianapolis on June 13-21 to confirm their Olympic spots. No decision has been announced on the Canadian trials scheduled for March 30-April 5 in Toronto.
All of the equestrian qualifying events have been completed in every discipline. None of the events was affected by the virus.
Qualification was to be based on rankings set to be released on April 4, with some additional slots to be determined in zonal events from April 15-26. But the International Fencing Federation suspended all international competitions for 30 days, delaying five major competitions that must be completed before zonal qualifying. The FIE is requesting an extension of the qualification period.
Tournaments to fill the 12-team men's and women's fields were completed in 2019. Ten countries qualified for both: Australia, Argentina, Germany, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the Netherlands and Britain.
Sixty golfers are determined by the world rankings, two per country with a maximum of four if they are among the top 15. The PGA Tour and European Tour, which offer the most ranking points, have canceled or postponed all events at least through April 12.
The team fields for both men's and women's gymnastics were set at last year's world championships. The remaining individual all-around and single apparatus spots are determined at World Cup events. The International Gymnastics Federation has cancelled an all-around World Cup event in Germany and postponed an apparatus World Cup event in Qatar from March until early June.
The International Handball Federation has postponed the final qualifying tournaments until June. The host nations were Spain, Hungary and Montenegro for the women and Norway, France and Germany for the men. Six of 12 spots remain open for each field.
The International Judo Federation has canceled all Olympic qualifiers through April 30, including a Grand Slam and two Grand Prix. Another Grand Prix last weekend, in Morocco, was canceled earlier. Qualifying ends on May 25.
World Rowing has canceled a European Olympic qualifying regatta that was scheduled for April 27-29 in Varese, Italy, and relocation is being considered. US Rowing said Olympic trials in Sarasota, Florida, from March 16-21 and April 13-18 have been postponed and the organization will not hold a national team event for at least 30 days.
Many spots in the 10 classes have been clinched. An Asian Olympic qualifier in Abu Dhabi has been postponed until mid-April, and a World Cup Series regatta in Genoa, Italy, that would have been a qualifier for African, Asian and European countries, has been canceled. The IOC has granted World Sailing an extension of the qualification period to June 30.
Men: Fourteen of 16 teams have already qualified. The tournament to produce the two teams from the North and Central American and Caribbean region was scheduled for March 20 to April 1 in Guadalajara, Mexico, but was indefinitely postponed.
Women: Ten of 12 teams have already qualified, including the reigning World Cup champion United States. China and South Korea were scheduled to play in a two-legged playoff that has been pushed back to early June. Cameroon is set to play Chile in a two-legged playoff in early April but no announcement on those matches has been made.
The field for the six-nation competition was set in four qualifying tournaments in 2018 and 2019.
Most Olympic berths will be determined at national trials. The U.S. meet is scheduled for Omaha, Nebraska, on June 21-28; Australia's is scheduled for June 14-19 in Adelaide; Japan's national championship is in Tokyo on April 1-8. The final two events on the TYR Pro Swim Series, a big part of pre-Olympic training, are scheduled for April 16-19 in Mission Viejo, California, and May 6-9 in Indianapolis.
The U.S. already wrapped up qualifying, with three men and three women earning spots in Tokyo. Qualifying elsewhere was still in progress and scheduled to continue through May. But the International Table Tennis Federation suspended all activities until the end of April and recommended that continental associations follow that decision. An emergency meeting of the ITTF executive committee is scheduled for Monday.
The International Tennis Federation says Olympic eligibility still will be based on the WTA and ATP rankings of June 8, even though more than a month of the tours' schedules in March and April have been scrapped. Requirements related to minimum participation in Fed Cup or Davis Cup remain in place — as does an appeal process for players who do not meet those standards.
The qualification was completed in January with the 12 teams for both the men's and women's competitions already set.
Men's and women's qualification tournaments scheduled for this month have been postponed until May. At stake are the final three spots for the 12-team men's field and the last two openings in the 10-team women's competition. The U.S. men and women have already qualified.
Spots are decided by the world ranking. The continental championships next month were meant to be the last gold-level events offering extra qualifying points. However, the European, Asian and African championships have all been postponed along with another gold-level event, junior worlds.
The U.S. trials that had been scheduled for April 4-5 in State College, Pennsylvania, have been postponed.
Maj Gen SM Salahuddin Islam has become the champion in the Sikder Group Independence Cup Golf Tournament 2020, scored 6 under par 66, at Kurmitola Golf club (KGC) in the capital on Friday.
Abdul Aziz Jorge became the runner-up in the competition with a score of 4 under par 68, while Korean golfer Kim Hee Soon has been ladies winner scoring 10 under par 62 in the golf tournament.
About 636 golfers including 584 male, 40 female and 12 junior golfers participated in total six categories in the 3-day long tournament.
Quartermaster General of Bangladesh Army Lieutenant General Md Shamsul Haque and Managing Director of the Sikder Group Ron Haque Sikder were present at the opening of the final day.
The Quartermaster General gave away the prizes among winners at a function at Banquet Hall of the Club House Building at KGC in the evening [8:30 pm].
Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Sikder Group SQ Islam Mohon, Vice President of KGC Major General Md Enayet Ullah, KGC Club Captain Brigadier General Tajul Islam Thakur, Chairman of KGC Tournament Committee Brigadier General Abidur Reza Khan (Retd) and Chief Executive Officer of KGC Brigadier General GSM Hamidur Rahman (Retd) were present at the function.
Besides, Advisor to Sikder Group Tournament Committee Farid Uddin Khan Rumy, General Manager of Golf Operations of KGC Lieutenant Colonel Md Abdul Bari (Retd), were also present during the ceremony.
Master Tasnim Karar became the junior winner among 12 participants in ‘Junior 9 Hole’ category of the tournament.
Besides, AF Nesaruddin won the Senior 18 category, Taslima Yousuf won the Ladies 9 Hole category, AFM Sarwar Kamal won the Veteran 9 Hole, and Col Mohammad Mohiuddin won the Senior 9 Hole of the tournament.
In addition, Mr Shadaab Iqbal Siddique won the Longest Drive prize hitting 291 yards while Col Md Nazmul Alam won the Nearest to Pin contest.
In Handicap categories, Maj Gen Mashud Razzaq became the champion of (0-15 Handicap) scored 4 under par 68 while Brig Gen AKM Akhtaruzzaman won 16-22 Handicap, Brig Gen Mohammad Selim won 13-21 Handicap and Brig Gen Mahbubul Haque won the 22-24 Handicap in the tournament.
A large numbers of participants, other members of the R&R Aviation Limited and high civil and military officials with their spouses attended the function.
The biggest country in South America has also been slowest in the region to impose restrictions on large gatherings at sporting events as the coronavirus continues to spread.
Unlike neighbouring countries that have announced tough measures since the beginning of the week, Brazil has been taking a more moderate approach.
As recently as Thursday night, more than 50,000 fans watched the Copa Libertadores group stage goalless clash between southern Brazilian teams Gremio and Internacional in Porto Alegre.
Matches of traditional state tournaments were played Friday night to a few thousand fans and will go on this weekend, with only some games in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to be played behind closed doors.
In comparison, many other tournaments in soccer-crazy South America were suspended, including in Colombia, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Three countries decided to keep playing, but only behind closed doors nationwide: Argentina, Chile and Bolivia.
Brazil's two biggest cities - Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo - contain most of the country's 107 coronavirus cases registered so far. No deaths have been reported, but government officials say they expect the number of people affected to soar in the next couple of weeks.
If Brazil's health ministry had not recommended empty stadia in Sao Paulo and Rio this weekend, many fans would have attended the matches scheduled.
More than 40,000 had already bought tickets for two matches in Sao Paulo on Saturday, including a derby. Another 20,000 were set for a Rio state league clash between Copa Libertadores winners Flamengo and Portuguesa.
"As there is no order from the health ministry, the decisions are made by state governments," Brazil's health ministry said in a statement. "The ministry makes recommendations, but each state has its contingency plans and takes its decision accordingly with their panorama."
Other Brazilian soccer state bodies decided to play behind closed doors too, but some still insisted on allowing fans despite Friday's recommendations of health authorities that also suggested postponements and cancellations to all organizers of sporting events in the nation.
A far different scenario has unfolded in Uruguay, where discussions about suspending sporting events were already well advanced before the tiny country announced its first coronavirus case on Friday. Hours after the information was revealed, all soccer matches were suspended, even in youth divisions, and the country's basketball competition was set to stop on Saturday.
In Argentina, where two people already died because of the coronavirus, there are many loud voices calling for no soccer at all during the outbreak.
"This should be stopped. We can live with it, but how about people that need to work here every day? How can they do it?" asked Diego Maradona, now a coach at Gimnasia La Plata, in an interview with Fox Sports.
The calmness of some Brazilian authorities is not followed by some players. Vasco da Gama defender Leandro Castán criticized a statement of Rio Gov. Wilson Witzel, who said playing behind closed doors this weekend will be enough of a precaution because only players will be in danger.
"The risk is ours ... thanks for the respect with the athletes," Castán said.
South America soccer body CONMEBOL has already suspended the Copa Libertadores and the Copa Sudamericana, which includes Brazilian clubs. It also had a request granted by FIFA to postpone the two opening rounds of the region's World Cup qualifiers.
Brazil has also been more moderate in other sports, such as mixed martial arts. An edition of UFC will be held Saturday night in capital Brasilia with no fans inside.
Even though the NBA has suspended its season, Brazil's basketball confederation believes it is enough to postpone the beginning of one of its two top leagues for a few weeks.
All matches of the country's top volleyball tournament will go ahead behind closed doors too. Volleyball is Brazil's second most popular sport and draws tens of thousands of fans to its best matches.
Utah Jazz star Donovan Mitchell's father, who works for the New York Mets, tested negative for the coronavirus.
Donovan Mitchell Sr. is the Mets' director of player relations and community outreach. The younger Mitchell confirmed Thursday he tested positive for the virus after Jazz teammate Rudy Gobert became the first NBA player to test positive, with Gobert's result prompting the league to suspend the season.
The elder Mitchell was tested Thursday and a negative result was received Friday night, the Mets said in a statement.
After learning of the Jazz situation Wednesday night, the Mets advised Mitchell Sr. not to report to the team facility Thursday morning. After finding out Thursday that Mitchell Jr. tested positive, the Mets' medical staff recommended his father be tested as a precaution.
Major League Baseball canceled the rest of the spring training schedule Thursday amid the novel coronavirus outbreak and postponed opening day by at least two weeks to no sooner than April 9.
MLB decided Friday to suspend spring training camps as well, and players were told they could remain at camp, report to their team's home city or go to their own home.
The Mets planned to make general manager Brodie Van Wagenen available to reporters on a conference call Saturday.