Bernard O’Byrne ‘astonished’ at Cheltenham Festival go-ahead as Basketball Ireland suspends games

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Basketball Ireland Chief Executive Bernard O’Byrne has said it is only right they listened to the advice of experts around the spread of the coronavirus.

Basketball Ireland Chief Executive Bernard O’Byrne.

Their board last night decided to suspend all matches throughout the country as a result of Covid-19.

He told Morning Ireland that its decision, while inconvenient, is the right one given the ‘trajectory’ the Covid-19 virus is taking.

Mr O’Byrne believes future sporting events will take place behind closed doors or be cancelled and he is “astonished” that the UK’s Cheltenham Festival went ahead, saying it is “a really odd situation”.

It comes as the NBA has suspended its season in the US “until further notice” and O’Byrne says they couldn’t ignore the messages from health experts.

He said that the Basketball Ireland had received many calls from concerned people and made its decision on the basis of health concerns, but acknowledged that there are financial complications for ‘the big sports’ when calling off fixtures.

In Gaelic Games, the Ladies Gaelic Football Higher Education Committee has had to suspend the 2020 Gourmet Food Parlour Giles Cup, scheduled for Kerry this weekend, until further notice.

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  • They said it was due to the higher than average cases confirmed from the regions of the competing colleges.

    The remaining five championships will continue with strict precautions in place from arrival to and from venues along with strict dressing room and feeding policy’s in place.

    NUI Galway were due to take on DCU Dóchas Éireann 2, and Mary Immaculate College Limerick were due to face Maynooth University in the semi-finals on Friday, with the final on Saturday; but these games will now be rescheduled for a future date.

    In a statement, the LGFA said: “This has not been an easy decision and we have taken every possible advice from official authorities but our inability to be able to facilitate these Giles Cup games in a controlled manner is just a risk too great for us to take.

    We understand that this decision will result in disappointment, especially amongst players and their backroom teams, especially when we are close to concluding this particular championship stages.

    However, the decision which is taken in the best interests of everyone and we hope that this is understood particularly at this difficult time of uncertainly.”

    Meanwhile, Juventus’ Champions League match against Lyon next week is in serious doubt after one of their players, Daniele Rugani, tested positive for Covid-19.

    Rugani wrote on Twitter: “You will have read the news and that’s why I want to reassure all those who are worrying about me, I’m fine.

    “I urge everyone to respect the rules, because this virus makes no distinctions! Let’s do it for ourselves, for our loved ones and for those around us. #grazie”

    European football’s governing body UEFA is yet to issue an update on whether the last-16 match will go ahead, after Juventus said it was activating isolation procedures around all those who may have had contact with Rugani.

    The Serie A season has been suspended following the outbreak, with Italy the worst-hit country in Europe.

    Also, The Danish football federation (DBU) said in a statement today that it expected the friendly against England at Wembley later this month would be cancelled.

    The Football Association has said it will be led by advice from the British Government concerning that match on March 31, and the one against Italy due to take place on March 27.

    The DBU announced that all football activity in Denmark would cease until at least March 29 following advice from the national government and added: “The men’s friendly matches against the Faroe Islands in Herning on March 27 and against England at Wembley on March 31 are expected to be cancelled.”

    Elsewhere, Britain’s Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has described the decision to go ahead with this weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix as “shocking”.

    At least five of the sport’s team members are in quarantine in Melbourne after showing symptoms associated with the coronavirus.

    More than 300,000 fans are expected through the gates of the Albert Park venue for this weekend’s race.

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