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Coronavirus: Sport goes into lockdown in bid to halt spread

Fixtures and events on hold in bid to halt virus spread

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Michael Conlan

Michael Conlan

Michael Conlan

Sport in Northern Ireland is facing up to a lockdown this month and beyond due to the coronavirus with a number of sporting bodies postponing matches and suspending fixtures indefinitely.

It is a similar scenario around the globe as the world and sport attempts to combat the spread of Covid-19.

Uefa will hold an emergency meeting on Tuesday which could lead to the Euro 2020 finals being delayed for a year. There is also the possibility that Northern Ireland's Euro 2020 play-off semi-final in Bosnia on March 26 could be postponed.

Today the Northern Ireland Football League (NIFL), in conjunction with the Irish FA, are expected to announce whether they will continue with their fixtures.

It will be interesting to see if they follow the lead of rugby and GAA who have called a halt to their games including the traditional St Patrick's Day schools cup finals in both codes.

The GAA has postponed all activity including matches, training and team gatherings until March 29 while the Irish Rugby Football Union have suspended all domestic rugby across the island until the same date.

Ulster Rugby's season is in limbo after the Pro 14 announced they were suspending the league season indefinitely. Ulster's Champions Cup quarter-final on April 5 in Toulouse is also up in the air.

Hockey Ireland are another organisation to suspend all of their activity until March 29. They have directed clubs and schools to do the same.

These declarations came after the Republic of Ireland Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced their latest stance on Covid-19 which included all outdoor gatherings of over 500 people and indoor gatherings of over 100 being cancelled until March 29.

Further afield Belfast boxer Michael Conlan will fight behind closed doors on March 17 against Colombian Belmar Preciado in New York's Madison Square Garden with spectators banned from the event in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

There has been an impact on every sport with Irish horse racing, golf, tennis, basketball and cricket, Formula One and rallying also amongst those affected.

Belfast Telegraph