NRL players will be told to limit interaction with fans at matches while community visits may also be cancelled as part of measures brought in to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, which has led the NBA to call off its season.
Starting with Thursday night’s Bankwest Stadium season-opening clash between Parramatta and Canterbury, players will be advised to limit mingling with fans prior to matches or on the field after full-time where they often interact with friends, supporters and family members to sign autographs and have photos taken.
The NBA has announced its season is on hiatus after Utah Jazz All-Star centre Rudy Gobert tested positive to COVID-19.
A set of guidelines was issued to all 16 NRL clubs on Thursday, which also includes restricting access to dressing rooms to players and match-day staff.
In the memo issued by NRL CEO Todd Greenberg to the clubs, he advised clubs to take reasonable steps to limit club-organised player contact with community organisations such as hospitals and schools.
He also advised the clubs to take the advice of their chief medical officers on enhanced medical and hygiene initiatives, such as regularly cleaning surfaces in training areas with antiseptic solutions, thorough handwashing, ensuring food preparation is done to the highest levels and preventing the sharing of water bottles.
Media will not be permitted in the sheds while host broadcasters will have access to certain areas only.
Gobert’s test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off of Wednesday’s game between the Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena. The game was cancelled. Gobert was not in the arena.
The NBA has suspended all games following the conclusion of Wednesday’s schedule of games until further notice. The NBA said during this hiatus it would determine its next steps in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.
Juventus defender Daniele Rugani has tested positive for COVID-19 and will undergo a 14-day quarantine, along with teammates and coaching staff with the Italian Serie A championship-winning side.
Rugani, who was on the bench in last weekend’s match against Inter Milan, is the first Italian player diagnosed with the virus but German club Hannover 96 has also announced a member of its team had COVID-19.
Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, have also tested positive to coronavirus while on holiday on the Gold Coast.
The Hollywood star posted on Twitter to announce his diagnosis.
In Melbourne, the Storm’s neighbours at AAMI Park – AFL clubs Collingwood and Melbourne – are taking big steps to protect their players from the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy said it was business as usual for his side for the time being when asked about the virus on Thursday morning.
Collingwood cancelled an open training session with fans on Wednesday, while the Demons have moved their AFL program almost an hour away to Casey Fields as clubs try and stop the disease from reaching their players and coaching staff.
“Some of our staff in the office have been told to work from home if they can as it is the health of our players which is the number one priority,” Bellamy said.
“We are certainly taking some precaution … but it’s business as usual in regards to training and everything else.”