Sport Sport in crisis: All Australian cricket off as AFL weighs its options
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Sport in crisis: All Australian cricket off as AFL weighs its options

An empty SCG for the first ODI match between Australia and New Zealand. Photo: AAP
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As the AFL weighs up the risk of starting its season, all Australian cricket clubs have been urged to stop matches as soccer’s plan to continue the A-League also hit a hurdle.

The AFL will decide late on Tuesday whether its season will begin on Thursday night after a majority of players supported playing game in empty stadiums.

One barrier to the starting the season, to be reduced by six games to 17 matches, has been overcome with Collingwood captain Scott Pendlebury cleared of coronavirus.

AFL chief Gillon McLachlan had said if one player tested positive to the virus the league would have no choice but to shut down for at least 14 days.

AFL officials were meeting on Tuesday as Brisbane chief executive Greg Swann said his club would lose $5 million in gate-takings alone if the season was played entirely behind closed doors.

Meanwhile, Cricket Australia urged all lower-tier competitions around the country to stop because of the coronavirus pandemic.

CA chief executive Kevin Roberts made the appeal while awarding this season’s Sheffield Shield to NSW after giving up on any prospect of playing a final as scheduled from March 27.

The Shield was suspended last week with one round remaining, with NSW holding a lead of 12 points over last season’s champion Victoria.

In other developments on Tuesday, Football Federation Australia’s plan to condense the rest of the A-League season hit a snag when Wellington Phoenix refused to travel on Tuesday.

The Phoenix were to have flown to Sydney and then spend a government-mandated 14 day period in isolation, before playing out the rest of the season based in Australia.

FFA officials had said the Wellington squad would be unable to train together during the isolation period.

But Phoenix general manager David Dome said it was “non negotiable” that the players trained together during that period.

“The current plan is to fly out Wednesday afternoon, pending a successful resolution of some of our major issues,” Dome told Radio Sport.

We have come up with a solution to base ourselves in Australia but we won’t go until we are comfortable that the logistics around that stay in Australia is acceptable to us.”

FFA, which planned to cram the remaining six rounds into a three or four week period before finals, separately said it was reconsidering its edict from Monday that allowed lower-level soccer competitions around the nation to continue.

Boxing promoters have postponed the super welterweight fight between Jeff Horn and Tim Tszyu and Jeff Horn – 24 hours after saying the April 22 fight would go ahead.

“It’s a landscape that changes probably hourly … we just don’t know where things are going,'” co-promoter Matt Rose told AAP.

World Surf League officials called off scheduled events in Australia at Bells Beach and Margaret River slated for April and May.

Gold Coast’s season-opening event, set for late March, was cancelled last week.

Overseas, the staging of the Tokyo Olympics was further clouded by a grim assessment from the head of France’s Olympic Committee, Denis Masseglia.

He said unless the coronavirus pandemic was waning by the end of May, the Tokyo Games couldn’t start as scheduled on July 24.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was due to hold a conference call with all national Olympic Committees on Wednesday.

-AAP