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Jonathan Rea made to wait as Qatar World Superbike round shelved over coronavirus

 

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Pushed back: Jonathan Rea will not be in Qatar after the postponement of World Superbikes round two

Pushed back: Jonathan Rea will not be in Qatar after the postponement of World Superbikes round two

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Pushed back: Jonathan Rea will not be in Qatar after the postponement of World Superbikes round two

Unsurprisingly, next weekend's second round of the World Superbike Championship in Qatar has been postponed due to the coronavirus.

It comes after the cancellation of MotoGP's opening round at the Losail Circuit this weekend, and all classes at the Thailand Grand Prix, which had been scheduled for March 22.

Ulsterman Jonathan Rea, who is chasing an unprecedented sixth consecutive title, will be keen to see the postponed Qatar round rescheduled, as he lies in fourth position after the opening races in Australia some 19 points behind leader and new Kawasaki team-mate Alex Lowes.

Compatriot Eugene Laverty, though, will be glad of the extra time to recover from the concussion he suffered in a warm-up crash in Australia which saw him declared unfit for the Sunday races.

A statement read: "The FIM and Dorna WSBK Organisation regret to announce that the Qatar round of the Motul WSBK Championship is to be postponed until further notice.

"As the global coronavirus outbreak continues, travel restrictions to Qatar have been enforced, primarily for passengers from Italy amongst others. People arriving directly from the country or who have been in Italy in the past two weeks will be directly to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days. Italian participation in WSBK -both on and off track - is vital, thus the decision has been taken to postpone the Qatar round until further notice."

The following round of the World Superbike Championship is scheduled for Jerez in Spain between March 27-29.

The FIM and Dorna are now seeking an alternative date for the desert round, which had already been moved from the final race of the season - a position it held until 2019 - to the second round this year.

Meanwhile, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has urged athletes to prepare for the Olympic Games in Tokyo with "full steam" despite fears they might have to be delayed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The IOC announced yesterday that they remain committed to staging the Games as scheduled between July 24 and August 9 after Japan's Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto suggested they could be postponed until later in the year.

Bach said: "Following a very comprehensive discussion today in the Executive Board, the IOC remain fully committed to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

"A task force has been in place since mid-February and, following the regular information from this task force - which consists of the IOC, the organising committee, the host city of Tokyo, the government of Japan and, in particular, the World Health Organisation - we remain very confident with regard to the success of these Olympic Games.

"Of course we will continue this regular consultation with this joint task force to be able to address any development which may occur.

"I would like to encourage all the athletes to continue their preparation for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 with great confidence and with full steam.

"We on our side will continue to support the athletes and their NOC's (National Olympic Committees) with regular updates and information on their website."

Fifa president Gianni Infantino has urged football's administrators "not to panic", with Switzerland and Italy among countries to have postponed fixtures as a result of the outbreak.

Speaking to member associations at Uefa's Congress in Amsterdam yesterday, he said: "Some of you have had to take important decisions in this respect.

"Every competition organiser has to study it of course and has to take decisions.

"It is important to consider all the information from the authorities, but it's also important not to panic.

"Someone said to me football can be an antidote to coronavirus. I wouldn't go that far, but sometimes football is an antidote to many other illnesses like discrimination and racism, and this is a fight we need to fight all together."

In rugby, England prop Mako Vunipola is in self-isolation as a precaution due to coronavirus fears after flying back from Tonga via Hong Kong.

He was set to link up with Eddie Jones' squad on Monday for a training camp, with a view to featuring in Saturday's Guinness Six Nations match against Wales, but the 29-year-old did not join the rest of the group and will miss the fixture after being advised to self-isolate under current NHS guidelines.

Belfast Telegraph