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England clash with Italy to be behind closed doors



Virus fears: Eddie Jones’ side take on Italy

Virus fears: Eddie Jones’ side take on Italy

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Virus fears: Eddie Jones’ side take on Italy

England's Six Nations clash with Italy looks set to go ahead, but without any fans present after the Italian government ruled yesterday that all sporting fixtures in the country before April 3 should be played behind closed doors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Eddie Jones' side are set to travel to Rome for the final round fixture on March 14, which was in serious doubt due to the raft of new cases of the coronavirus in the northern part of the country.

Ireland's final Six Nations clash with France in Paris is also believed to be in major doubt after the French government issued a ban on public gatherings of more than 5,000 people to prevent the spread, with the French Federation de Rugby (FFR) meeting with the government yesterday to discuss the issue.

In Formula One, Lando Norris believes any decision to cancel the opening races of the season over the coronavirus outbreak would be a "shame", but stressed that it would be the right thing to do for public safety.

The Chinese Grand Prix has already been indefinitely postponed due the outbreak and both the Bahrain and Vietnam events at risk due to travel restrictions.

"If it does get cancelled it's a shame but the only reason it would ever get cancelled is for safety and the precautions which come first over everything else," Norris said.

Meanwhile, Augusta National Golf Club chairman Fred Ridley still expects The Masters to go ahead as planned next month despite the coronavirus outbreak.

"Augusta National is not only monitoring the situation closely, but also consulting with relevant experts, including the World Health Organisation, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Georgia Department of Public Health and local authorities," he said.

"As a result of this collaboration, and based upon our knowledge of the situation at this time, we are proceeding as scheduled for the Augusta National Women's Amateur, the Drive, Chip and Putt National Finals and the Masters Tournament."

Belfast Telegraph