Coronavirus: NRL's idea for capped crowds 'belongs in the sin bin' – AMA shoots down plan

By Sports Desk May 25, 2020

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) hit out at the NRL's plan to reintroduce crowds in July, labelling the idea "absurd" and "dangerous" amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 NRL season will resume on Thursday and Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chairman Peter V'landys is hoping capped crowds can return to the league as soon as July.

As the NRL eyes fans returning to stadiums after the campaign was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 crisis, Melbourne Storm chairman Matt Tripp also revealed the club are planning for a restricted number of supporters to watch games at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

But the AMA took aim at the NRL, president Tony Bartone saying in a statement: "Put bluntly, this absurd and dangerous idea belongs in the sin bin.

"The NRL should be satisfied that it has its competition back in action, but it is unfair and unwise to put the health of the game's fans at risk. They must first monitor the health and safety of the players and officials who will be involved in the thick of the on-field action.

"Australians have done exceptionally well in flattening the COVID-19 curve, and we are not too far away from relaxing more restrictions.

"Now is not the time for sporting codes to be considering having crowds at games. They must wait until the medical experts advise that it is absolutely safe to do so – and that will not be as early as July.

"The AFL and other sporting codes are adopting the right approach, which is to wait for the expert medical advice before allowing crowds back to watch games.

"We have to be consistent in our public health messaging. Decisions on the safety of holding mass gatherings should be made by medical experts in consultation with the National Cabinet, not by rugby league administrators.

"Of course, we all want to see sport return with fans in the stands barracking for their teams. We also want to see theatre, dance, live music, cinemas, and other entertainments open to the public.

"But the public health must come first. Getting beyond the COVID-19 pandemic is bigger than rugby league - it is about the safety of all Australians."

Related items

  • 'Devastated' Murray out of Australian Open following positive COVID-19 test 'Devastated' Murray out of Australian Open following positive COVID-19 test

    Andy Murray has withdrawn from the Australian Open a little over a week after testing positive for coronavirus.

    Murray, a five-time finalist in Melbourne, went into isolation at home after returning a positive test on January 14.

    The three-time major winner, ranked 123rd in the world, had hoped to compete at the first grand slam of the year after being granted a wildcard.

    However, tournament organisers indicated it would be difficult for Murray to remain in the draw as he would be unable to travel via one of the official charter flights containing other players before going through the required period of quarantine.

    On Friday, the 33-year-old confirmed he had been unable to come to a "workable" solution with authorities.

    In a statement carried by The Guardian and other UK media outlets, Murray said: "Gutted to share that I won't be flying out to Australia to compete at the Australian Open.

    "We've been in constant dialogue with Tennis Australia to try and find a solution but we couldn't make it work.

    "I want to thank everyone there for their efforts, I'm devastated not to be playing out in Australia. It's a country and tournament that I love."

    The build-up to this year's Australian Open has been impacted by players having to spend a two-week quarantine in their hotel accommodation.

    A total of 72 competitors have been unable to leave their rooms after positive coronavirus tests among passengers on the chartered flights to Melbourne.

    Players have been unable to access practice courts and many have complained on social media about sub-standard food and conditions, with Yulia Putintseva, the world number 28, sharing videos showing mice in her room.

    The tournament is due to start on February 8.

  • Zidane 'feeling fine' as Madrid remain without Ramos for Alaves trip Zidane 'feeling fine' as Madrid remain without Ramos for Alaves trip

    Zinedine Zidane is in "good spirits" after testing positive for COVID-19 as Real Madrid get ready to take on Deportivo Alaves without their head coach.

    The Spanish club confirmed on Friday that Zidane is isolating after contracting coronavirus, meaning he will not be present for Saturday's LaLiga fixture.

    Having already lost to Athletic Bilbao in the semi-finals of the Supercopa de Espana, Los Blancos suffered a humiliating defeat to third-tier club Alcoyano to exit the Copa del Rey in midweek.

    With their title defence also stuttering, the pressure has increased on Zidane, whose absence this weekend means assistant coach David Bettoni will be in charge.

    "I spoke to him this morning, he's feeling fine," Bettoni told the media ahead of a trip to an Alaves side that won 2-1 in Madrid last season.

    "He's in good spirits. He won't be with us in person but we know he'll be supporting us. The important thing is that everyone knows he'll be there in spirit.

    "We're just finalising how we're going to do things."

    Zidane insisted he remained calm about his own future in the aftermath of the defeat to Alcoyano, having seen a strong Madrid side let slip a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 after extra time.

    Bettoni insists the squad remain united with the focus now shifting back to LaLiga, where they quickly need to make up ground on leaders Atletico Madrid.

    "At Real Madrid, every defeat brings criticism, but we have enough experience to know we've got a chance against Alaves to show everyone we're a unit," he said.

    "We're all together in this and we're going to do all we can to take the three points. We work hard every day towards just that and we have another chance to show it."

    Sergio Ramos did not feature in the cup tie on Wednesday and will once again be absent this weekend, while fellow defender Dani Carvajal is not yet ready to make a return.

    "With Sergio Ramos, he is in his recovery process and he won't be with us tomorrow," Bettoni confirmed.

    "Dani Carvajal trained a little with us, but he won't be with us either and will be able to train normally from Monday."

    Madrid have lost just one of their previous 15 away games in LaLiga but have found goals hard to come by this season, managing 30 in 18 games. That is their second-worst tally at this stage in the past 14 campaigns.

  • IOC and Japan deny Tokyo 2020 Olympics set to be called off again IOC and Japan deny Tokyo 2020 Olympics set to be called off again

    Olympic chiefs have been joined by the Japanese government in denying a report that the Tokyo Games is poised to be called off for a second time.

    The delayed Tokyo 2020 event is due to officially open on July 23 and close on August 8, having been put back by a year because of the COVID-19 health crisis.

    However, with the pandemic still causing devastation in countries across the globe, there have been concerns that staging an Olympics in 2021 may be impractical.

    British newspaper The Times quoted an unnamed senior Japanese government source as saying: "No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult. Personally, I don't think it's going to happen."

    That is a perspective that is hotly disputed, with International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach telling Kyodo News: "We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo.

    "This is why there is no plan B and this is why we are fully committed to make these Games safe and successful."

    Japan has strict border controls in place in an attempt to prevent travellers spreading coronavirus and bringing new strands of the virus into the country.

    The IOC executive board is due to meet on January 27, when it is set to receive updates from the Tokyo organising committee.

    A recent poll of Japanese public, conducted by broadcaster NHK, found there was widespread opposition to the Olympics going ahead this year.

    The Times said Tokyo would look to host the 2032 Olympic Games.

    Yet Australian John Coates, an IOC vice-president and chair of the Tokyo Coordination Commission, says the plan remains for the Games to be held in its current slot.

    "There has been no discussion on cancellation," Mr Coates told The Ticket, an ABC radio show.

    "At the end of the day, politicians do have to take into account the feelings of those inside their party and the general public.

    "But this is not the message we are getting from Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga or the president of the Tokyo Organising Committee Yoshiro Mori, himself a former Prime Minister."

    In Japan, deputy chief cabinet secretary Manabu Sakai told media that the prospect of a Games cancellation was not under consideration.

    He said: "There is no such fact. I would like to deny it. The government is working as one to prepare for the success of the event this summer."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.