Netball players in the Suncorp Super Netball in Australia have agreed to 70 per cent pay cut in light of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe and that has prevented the league from getting started this season.

Rugby Australia (RA) has stood down 75 per cent of its workforce for three months in a move it called "the toughest decision in the game's history".

Its remaining staff have been offered significant salary reductions or reduced hours after the coronavirus outbreak brought Super Rugby and the international game to a halt.

RA chief executive Raelene Castle has agreed to a 50 per cent pay cut, while other executives will receive 30 per cent less from April 1 until June 30.

Plans to launch a five-team domestic competition during the suspension of Super Rugby have been put on hold until at least May 1.

Castle said in a statement on Tuesday: "Today we have had to deliver the hardest news imaginable to our incredible, hard-working and passionate staff, that many of them will be stood down for a three-month period so that the game can survive this unprecedented crisis.

"Since the suspension of our proposed domestic Super Rugby competition, we have been working to understand both the immediate and long-term financial implications for the game as a result of the suspension of the competition, and potential further loss of revenue-generating content as we look ahead to the international season.

"Our extensive modelling shows that as a code, we could lose up to [AU]$120million in revenue should it not be possible for any rugby to be played in 2020. Of course, that is the worst-case scenario, and we are very hopeful that we can recommence the Super Rugby season and domestic Wallabies Test matches at some point this year.

"The measures we will implement from April 1, although extremely painful, are necessary to ensure the sport remains financially viable and to ensure that we are able to come out the other side of this global crisis, fully operational and ready to throw everything into the rebuild. It is our priority to keep all of our valued team connected and engaged through this period.

"We shared with the Rugby Union Players Association (RUPA) today the breadth of our cost-cutting including the standing down of 75 per cent of our staff. We will work closely with RUPA to reach an agreement which is appropriate given this unprecedented situation.

"I want to pay tribute to each and every member of staff across our rugby organisations and once again stress that once we get through this crisis, and we will, rugby will be back stronger than ever. All staff on stand down will have continued access to Rugby Australia support services during this time."

The Rebels and Brumbies announced all their employees would be stood down or continue with reduced pay until the end of June.

Tim Paine said his car was broken into after the Australia Test captain set up a home gym amid the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has brought sport to a standstill, with cricket on hiatus due to the global health emergency, which has claimed more than 37,800 lives.

Attempting to stay fit amid the shutdown, Paine relocated his car onto the street and transformed his garage into a home gym in Hobart, where the wicketkeeper was robbed.

"I woke up this morning to a message from NAB saying I had some interesting movements on my account," Paine told reporters on Tuesday.

"I went out and the [car] door was open and my wallet and a few other things had gone.

"Actually looking at my account, the boys went straight to Maccas [McDonalds] – the boys must have been hungry."

"Since that went on radio, I've had a message from [sponsor] Kookaburra and they're going to send me some balls on a string that I can hook up in the garage and start training," added Paine.

While happy at home, Paine said: "Steve Smith, David Warner – guys like that, they're high energy, they love to train so this would be a real eye opener for them.

"I think [Smith] is doing a 10km run every day so hopefully he doesn't come back as a skeleton. But him and Marnus [Labuschagne] and Davey are probably the three I worry about.

"They don't like sitting still, and Steve and Marnus don't like not batting for too long. And Davey – he literally can't sit still.

"Davey has got a home gym so he will be in there literally 24/7 and Steve and Marnus would have some kind of contraption where they're hitting balls, or they've got their wives are feeding them balls because there's no way those two are going a week without batting."

Paine also conceded June's two-Test tour of Bangladesh is unlikely to go ahead as scheduled due to coronavirus.

The first Test is set to start on June 11 and Paine said: "You don't have to be Einstein to realise it is probably unlikely to go ahead, particularly in June. Whether it's cancelled or pushed back, we're not quite sure at the moment."

England captain Joe Root has been inspired to "do something special" during the next Ashes series against Australia after watching 'The Test'.

Root, like the rest of the United Kingdom, is in lockdown in a measure aimed at limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

With plenty of downtime, Root has started watching the Amazon docuseries 'The Test', which follows the fortunes of Australia's cricket team across eight episodes and culminates in the 2019 Ashes in England.

That series ended in a 2-2 draw, resulting in the tourists retaining the urn, and Root is now even more fired up for the next Ashes between the two countries in 2021-22.

"I resisted watching it for a good while but, having exhausted a lot of the shows I wanted to watch, it has come around," Root said on a conference call with reporters on Monday.

"It has been a good motivator to get back on the bike and incentivise myself.

"It goes without saying that the World Test Championship is very important and each game holds a huge amount of weight as we try and get into that final [scheduled for June 2021]. But a lot of things we do revolve around planning for that Ashes series.

"We have around 17-20 games until we go there and play - if all are played - and we have to use every opportunity to be ready for what those conditions throw at us, what Australia throw at us on and off the field.

"We need to use this time to ready ourselves to do something special because we know how challenging it can be to play there."

England were due to be in Sri Lanka now for a two-Test series, but they returned home as sporting events started to get cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Root's team are due to face West Indies and Pakistan in home Test series in the coming months, though they would appear in doubt too.

There have been reports that the Sri Lanka trip could be rearranged prior to England's five-Test tour of India in 2021 and Root is mindful about burnout for his squad.

"It would be a very tough winter, a huge amount of workload, especially on the multi-format players, but we have had some tough winters in the past and found ways to get through them," he added.

"It would be interesting to see how they would fit it in looking at the schedule right now but if it was to go ahead, we would have to be able to adapt, look at the squad sizes we take over and make sure guys weren't blown out and overworked."

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle has taken a 50 per cent pay cut as part of cost-saving measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, RA reported a provisional deficit of 9.4million Australian dollars in 2019, largely due to the expense of the Rugby World Cup, fewer home Test matches, and higher extra expenditures such as the Israel Folau settlement.

With rugby competitions on hold due to the threat of COVID-19, RA finances are set to take a greater hit due to the loss of matchday and broadcast revenue.

Castle confirmed on Monday that she will be reducing her salary by AUD400,000, while the rest of her executive team will take 30 per cent pay cuts for at least the next three months.

It is anticipated players may now accept similar salary cuts while the pandemic continues.

Justin Harrison, CEO of the Rugby Union Players' Association (RUPA), said: "As a playing group, the members take an indication that pay cuts of between 30 and 50 per cent are considered adequate to help nurse the game through this crisis.

"Our fear was deeper cuts might be needed and that the game was in a financial black hole."

Castle explained: "It's important that we keep Rugby Australia, Super [Rugby] teams and other member unions all in a financially viable situation over the next three months to make sure any decisions we make going forward for rugby in this country will be made with time, with the accurate financial information, and we can make any of those decisions calmly and in a considered way knowing that we've got certainties for at least the next three months.

"Those decisions are significant, and we will continue to work closely with government and with COMPPS [Coalition of Major Professional and Participation Sports] around how an industry package for sport might be developed for all of sport.

"We're in constant dialogue with government around any financial situation we find ourselves in and that we might have for additional loans for grants or loan facilities."

Samantha Wallace, the 2019 Suncorp Super Netball Finals MVP, said she is doing well despite missing her family back home as she waits out the postponement of the league because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The virus has infected close to half a million people in 198 countries globally and killed more than 22,000. There are about 3000 cases in Australia, which prompted the Super Netball League Commission (SNLC) to call a halt for the season for at least the next couple of months.

“Given the rapidly-evolving landscape, the Commission has determined that the start of the season will be deferred and will not commence prior to 30 June,” a statement from the commission said on Monday.

Wallace, the shooter for the New South Wales Swifts, is among several players from Trinidad and Tobago who are in Australia and who are unlikely to be able to travel home since the country has closed its borders in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

However, Wallace said she is doing okay.

“I'm coping extremely well, to be honest. I'm safe, my health is great,” she told Sportsmax.tv.

“It's hard not being with my family and loved ones in this time but everyone back home is healthy and safe.”

However, she concedes that the league on hiatus is proving to be a bit of a challenge.

“It’s weird waking up in the morning and not have training to attend,” she said.

“Looking at the safer side, our health and well-being are way more important than a netball league at the moment. We, the athletes, have to find a way to keep fit in our backyards or wherever as possible.”

She offered words of encouragement in what will be challenging times.

“I see this as an opportunity to spend great quality time with your kids, family. Although I know it's a tough time here because some people are jobless and don't know when they will have a job again, in all I'm just grateful for life.”

The Los Angeles Lakers and Megan Schutt will look back fondly on their previous achievements on March 26 - but Ken Norton will not be circling the date in his calendar.

A star-studded Lakers team achieved a memorable NBA feat 48 years ago, while Schutt made Australian cricket history in 2018.

However, for Norton, this day will bring back painful memories of a chastening defeat to heavyweight rival George Foreman.

Take a look back at the some of the most notable sporting moments that occurred on this down the years.

 

1972 - Lakers set the benchmark

Led by head coach Bill Sharman and with a roster including Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West, the Lakers set an NBA benchmark by defeating Seattle.

The 124-98 triumph saw the Lakers finish the regular season with a 69-13 record, at the time giving them the best win percentage (.841) posted by a team.

Their record stood for 24 years until Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls posted a 72-10 campaign, while the Golden State Warriors went even better with a 73-9 mark in 2015-16.

1974 - Foreman keeps streak going

Norton was known for being a tough nut to crack. The heavyweight had two titanic battles against Muhammad Ali in 1973, the legendary pair recording a win apiece.

However, Foreman wasted little time in dealing with Norton the following year, the WBA and WBC champion retaining his titles in Caracas, Venezuela, with a stunning second-round stoppage.

It was a 37th knockout win for Foreman, improving his record to 40-0. The winning run ended later in 1974, though, as he was famously beaten by Ali in 'The Rumble in the Jungle'.

2018 - Schutt locks down India

Schutt became the first Australian woman to take a Twenty20 hat-trick at international level, in the process helping secure victory over India in Mumbai.

The seam bowler had conceded 10 runs from four deliveries before finishing her first over with the wickets of opening duo Smriti Mandhana and Mithali Raj.

However, Schutt was forced to wait to complete her treble, returning to the attack later in the innings at the opposite end to get Deepti Sharma caught in the deep. Australia, who had made 186-5 earlier in the game, triumphed by 36 runs.

When Australia closed its borders to try to contain the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, Jhaniele Fowler was among the thousands who were unable to leave the Land Down Under.

March 25, 2013 proved a momentous day for Tiger Woods following a rocky few years.

An all-time golf great, Woods' career appeared to be spiralling out of control towards the end of the 2000s.

But he was back at the top of the pile in March 2013, signalling an impressive renaissance.

It was also a notable – albeit controversial – day for Mike Tyson back in 1995, as the infamous boxer was released from prison after being convicted of rape in 1992.

Below, we look at those and the other major events to happen in the sporting world on March 25.

 

1958 - Sugar Ray Robinson claims historic fifth title

The phrase "pound-for-pound" essentially came into being because of Sugar Ray Robinson – a fighter whose performances in the welterweight and middleweight divisions earned him renown. A professional boxer in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, Robinson is regarded by many as the greatest of all-time and on this day in 1958 he became the first in history to win a world championship five times when he defeated Carmen Basilio.

1982 - Wayne Gretzky reaches 200 points for season

Wayne Gretzky's influence on ice hockey is unrivalled and he remains comfortably NHL's all-time leading points (goals and assists) scorer in history, with 2,857 – more than 900 clear of his closest challenger Jaromir Jagr. One of his finest accomplishments was becoming the first player to rack up 200 points in a single season during 1981-81, helping Edmonton Oilers to their first NHL title. He reached 200 with an assist early on against Calgary Flames, before adding another three points in that encounter. Gretzky finished the season with 212, 107 more than anyone else on the team.

1995 - Mike Tyson released from jail

After serving less than half of his six-year sentence for rape, Mike Tyson was released on March 25, 1995. He went on to ease through comeback fights against Peter McNeeley and Buster Mathis Jr, with Tyson's management accused of organising "tomato cans" to secure straightforward victories upon his return.

2013 - Tiger Woods regains world no.1 spot

After dominating golf in the 2000s, Woods endured a turbulent period from late 2009. Persistent injury problems, issues in his private life and struggles with a new swing all played a part in Woods dropping to 58th in November 2011. In March 2013, he was back on top thanks to victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, beating Justin Rose by two strokes.

2018 - Steve Smith punished for sandpaper gate

In March 2018, some Australia players were caught out in arguably the most infamous cricketing scandal ever. After admitting involvement in Cameron Bancroft's attempts at ball-tampering with sandpaper, captain Steve Smith was handed a one-match ban and fined 100 per cent of his fee by the International Cricket Council on March 25. That was just the tip of the iceberg, however. Smith and vice-captain David Warner were both banned for a year by Cricket Australia (CA), while Bancroft was given a nine-month suspension for his part in what CA labelled "cheating".

March 24 was a momentous date in the world of cricket, just for all the wrong reasons.

The actions of an opening batsman during a 2018 Test series with South Africa plunged Australian cricket into crisis.

Six years earlier, one of the greatest footballers of the modern generation made Spanish football history.

It is also a date that marked the end of the career of arguably the best tight end to ever play a snap in the NFL.

We look back at the major events that happened on this day in sport.

 

1936: Red Wings outlast Maroons in NHL marathon

Want an easy way to lose weight? Play nearly three full NHL games in one day. 

That's what Detroit Red Wings goaltender Normie Smith and his team-mates did as they defeated the Montreal Maroons 1-0 in the first game of the Stanley Cup semi-finals, the longest game in NHL history.

Smith reportedly made 92 saves, losing 12 pounds of body weight in the process, before Mud Bruneteau scored the decisive goal in the sixth overtime period at the Montreal Forum, the game finally coming to a close at 2:25am.

Detroit went on to win their first Stanley Cup. Thankfully, shootouts mean such epics are no longer necessary in today's NHL.

2012: Ronaldo races to LaLiga landmark

Cristiano Ronaldo elevated himself from superstar to candidate for greatest of all time during his glittering career at Real Madrid.

Even in a spell that included four Champions League titles and two LaLiga crowns, his achievement of eight years ago against Real Sociedad ranks among his finest at Los Blancos.

Ronaldo netted twice in a 3-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu, making him the fastest player to reach LaLiga 100 goals.

He reached his century in just 92 games, surpassing the mark set by fellow Madrid great Ferenc Puskas, who did the same in 105 games.

2018: Bancroft caught on camera

Australian cricket was plunged into a ball-tampering scandal on the third day of the third Test with South Africa. 

Footage emerged of Cameron Bancroft rubbing the ball with a yellow object, later revealed to be sandpaper.

His attempts to rough up the ball led to unprecedented sanctions being handed out by Cricket Australia. 

Captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were banned from all forms of domestic and international cricket for 12 months for their roles in the incident.

They were also stood down from the respective leadership roles, with Warner removed from future consideration for such positions. Bancroft, meanwhile, was banned for nine months.

2019: Gronk bows out a champion

Rob Gronkowski became the gold standard at tight end in a career that will surely see him one day enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

However, the well-documented injuries he battled throughout his time in the NFL took their toll and he hung up the cleats after nine seasons in the league.

He went out a champion, however, helping the New England Patriots to their sixth Lombardi Trophy with victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII a month prior to his retirement.

Gronkowski won three Super Bowl rings with New England and, despite retiring before the age of 30, he ended his career widely regarded as the pre-eminent tight end in NFL history.

March 23 should forever be etched in the memories of Australian cricket fans, but Javier Mascherano will not remember the date so fondly.

Poor India were on the wrong end of a hammering in the 2003 Cricket World Cup final in Johannesburg, even with a star-studded batting line-up at their disposal.

Mascherano and his Liverpool team-mates also suffered a heavy defeat at Old Trafford, though the midfielder did not stick around to hear the final whistle.

Meanwhile, in golf, there was a lesser-spotted Monday finish on the PGA Tour.

We look back at the major events that happened on this day in sport.

 

1981: Floyd reigns at Sawgrass after thunderstorms

The eighth edition of the Players Championship was forced into a Monday finish after bad weather wiped out the scheduled final day at Sawgrass.

Heavy thunderstorms led to a Monday finish, with three players – Raymond Floyd, Barry Jaeckel and Curtis Strange – tied at the top after 72 holes were completed.

A play-off between the trio lasted just the one extra hole; Floyd was the only player to par the 15th to secure the tournament.

It was his second successive win during the PGA Tour's Florida swing, the American having also prevailed at Doral near Miami the previous week.  

 

2003 - Skipper Ponting shines as Australia rule the world again

There was simply no stopping Australia in South Africa, Ricky Ponting's squad successfully retaining the trophy with a thumping victory over India to make sure they went through the 2003 tournament unbeaten.

The captain led from the front too, Ponting blasting a superb 140 not out as he shared in an unbroken stand worth 234 with Damien Martyn, who finished up unbeaten on 88.

Replying to a mammoth total of 359-2, India simply never recovered from losing Sachin Tendulkar - who was named player of the tournament - in the first over of their reply, caught and bowled by Glenn McGrath.

Virender Sehwag did make 82, but Australia bowled their opponents out inside 40 overs to win by 125 runs, in the process sealing their third World Cup crown.

 

2008: Ronaldo on target as Mascherano loses his cool

Manchester United remained on the path to retaining their Premier League title with a 3-0 victory over 10-man Liverpool.

Defender Wes Brown was the unlikely scorer of the opener, while Portuguese duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani added further goals in a comfortable win for the table-topping Red Devils.

They were aided by the dismissal of Mascherano, who was sent off for dissent before half-time. The Argentina international did not go quietly, however, as he needed to be escorted off the field.

United went on to be crowned champions again, a 17th top-flight title putting them just one behind their arch-rivals' tally at the time.

Few sporting events have been able to escape the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with public gatherings prohibited in many countries across the world.

So, with precious little live sporting events to keep fans entertained, many are looking to the past to satisfy those cravings.

Whether you hark back to specific 'Premier League Years', your favourite World Cups or that time your favourite tennis player lost in the Wimbledon final, nostalgia often has a big part to play in our love of sport.

Below, we picked out five noteworthy events from the world of sport that happened on this day – March 17.

 

1955 – The Richard Riot

Maurice Richard would not have known at the time just how much of an impact his actions on March 13, 1955 would have. A star of the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL, Richard struck a linesman during a match and was consequently banned for the rest of the season. Fans insisted it was too harsh, claiming the sanction was motivated by Richard's French-Canadian heritage. NHL president Clarence Campbell attended the Canadiens' next match and that sparked a riot, which was not contained to the Montreal Forum stadium. A reported $100,000 worth of damage was done, 37 people were injured and 100 arrests we made. Richard cooled the controversy as he accepted the punishment.

1977 – Australia win Centenary Test

Australia and England played out the Centenary Test on March 17, 1977, marking the 100th anniversary of what is considered to be the first Test cricket match. Starting on March 12 and concluding five days later, Australia won by 45 runs, the exact same margin of victory they recorded 100 years earlier.

1984 – Scotland end Five Nations wait

Scotland enjoyed a momentous day in rugby union on March 17, 1984. A 21-12 win over France at Murrayfield saw them clinch their first outright Five Nations win – and Triple Crown – since 1938, and their first Grand Slam since 1925, with Peter Dods' kicking proving decisive on the day. Scotland have only been the solitary winners of the competition – in either its previous guise or as the Six Nations – twice since.

2012 – Fabrice Muamba collapses in FA Cup match

English football was rocked on March 17, 2012, when Bolton Wanderers midfielder Muamba collapsed on the pitch during a televised FA Cup clash at Tottenham. The former England Under-21 player had suffered a cardiac arrest and it was later revealed his heart stopped for 78 minutes. Two days later, Muamba's heart was beating once again without assistance and he was eventually discharged from hospital on April 16. Although he had to retire early, Muamba has since gone into youth coaching.

2019 – McIlroy wins golf's biggest cash prize

This time last year, Rory McIlroy took home what was at the time the biggest purse in golfing history. At the 2019 Players Championship in Sawgrass, McIlroy carded rounds of 67, 65, 70 and 70 to finish 16 under and edge out Jim Furyk by a shot, clinching a pay cheque of $2.25m – the single biggest monetary prize handed out in golf at that point. However, the $3m Jon Rahm took home for winning the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai later that year set a new benchmark.

Rugby Australia has shut down its Sydney headquarters for two days after two members of the sevens programme went into self-isolation over coronavirus concerns.

RA announced on Sunday that the pair experienced symptoms after attending the High Performance centre within its Moore Park headquarters during the past week. They will be tested for coronavirus with the results expected in the next 72 hours.

As a result, the facility will now be closed for an intensive clean with all administrative staff advised to work from home.

An RA statement read: "Rugby Australia has implemented a stringent policy with regards to any player or staff member that experiences symptoms associated with the virus.

"The policy concerns any person who starts to exhibit signs and symptoms of the virus that has recently travelled overseas to any country or has been in direct contact with someone known to have the virus. The person must self-isolate for 14 days and be tested for COVID-19."

The coronavirus pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar on Saturday with more major events and competitions being disrupted.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 rapidly spreading across the globe, it has resulted in the postponement of competitions worldwide as governments attempt to combat the pandemic.

A small number of events still went ahead, but sports stars, teams and indeed supporters were otherwise left to find other means of entertainment.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 155,000, we round up all the latest news and updates.

 

Germany's prestige friendly with Italy later this month became the latest football fixture to bite the dust, with the majority of upcoming international matches having now been wiped out.

More major organisations have halted all footballing activities until a later date, including Qatar, Morocco and Egypt.

A small number of competitions, most notably the A-League, Russian Premier League and Mexico's Liga MX, did manage to go ahead as planned.

Indeed, NRL games also avoided the cut, as did a handful of Super Rugby matches before an indefinite ban was put in place later in the day.

Another competition to fall was Australia's one-day international series against New Zealand, which was already being played behind closed doors.

With New Zealand's government introducing strict protocols to attempt to slow the spread of the virus, the Black Caps – along with Super Rugby side Highlanders – returned home from Australia and Argentina respectively in order to beat the new restrictions, which will mean any new arrival to the country, even if they are a citizen, has to self-isolate for 14 days.

With the top-four tiers of English football being shelved until at least early April, there was plenty of focus on the National League as six games were given the green light.

There was some controversy in Argentina as River Plate's Copa Superliga clash with Atletico Tucuman was suspended after the home side refused to open their stadium.

Independiente's tie with Velez Sarsfield was played out in full, albeit behind closed doors, with the hosts claiming a 1-0 victory.

In Italy, Napoli urged their supporters to sing from their balconies in unison as Fiorentina's Patrick Cutrone and two more Sampdoria players tested positive for COVID-19.

Manchester City's Benjamin Mendy revealed a negative test result after recently self-isolating, but Carlo Ancelotti and Angelo Ogbonna questioned the Premier League's handling of the outbreak, while Jordan Pickford denied reports he is self-isolating.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, meanwhile, claimed the competition should be "void" – a suggestion Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher quickly dismissed.

The lack of football did not stop certain clubs from keeping supporters entertained, though, with LaLiga side Leganes posting live updates of a fictitious match against Real Valladolid, which they won 2-1.

Perhaps inspired by their Spanish counterparts, Southampton got Manchester City involved in an online game of noughts and crosses to help fill the void.

The downtime also gave football stars a chance to recuperate, with Sergio Ramos and Alexis Sanchez among those to post images of their extra-curricular activities.

Others, such as Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and FIFA president Gianni Infantino, opted to use social media to educate their followers on how to properly wash their hands, while Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi used his profile to echo the sentiments of Cristiano Ronaldo in calling for people to follow the guidance of health organisations.

As Ronaldo and Jurgen Klopp were praised by the World Health Organisation for "protecting people from coronavirus", former United States president Barack Obama hailed a host of NBA stars – including Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson – for donating large amounts to help support arena staff during the league's hiatus.

UFC superstar Conor McGregor labelled the pandemic "a stupid f****** virus", but later moved to clarify his aunt did not die after contracting the disease after previously suggesting as such.

And in more positive news, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe revealed his country still plan for the 2020 Olympic Games to go ahead in Tokyo, starting in late July.

The International Olympic Committee will have the final say, but ABE is confident the Games will be staged "without problem".

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