NRL

Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL) has confirmed that its 2020 season will recommence as a 20-round competition on May 28.

Under the plans, the NRL will stage its Grand Final at the Sydney Cricket Ground (pictured) on October 25. Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) chair Peter V’landys confirmed the plans following consultations with the NRL’s broadcast partners, clubs and stakeholders.

The NRL season was paused after two games due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the league has confirmed that these fixtures will be counted, and the current table will remain in place when the competition resumes. The competition draw will be determined in the next two weeks, along with the date for the State of Origin.

Clubs will be able to recommence training on May 4, with stringent biosecurity measures to be introduced for players, club officials and staff.

The NRL’s only New Zealand-based team, the Warriors, is due to arrive in Australia on Sunday. The Warriors are set to serve 14 days of quarantine in Tamworth, New South Wales.

The NRL has not yet revealed details of which stadia will be used for games and whether fans will be permitted to attend.

Switzerland

The Swiss Federal Council has announced that professional sports leagues will be permitted to go ahead behind closed doors from June 8 as it laid out plans to lift restrictions across the country.

From May 11, recreational sports training can resume for small groups of no more than five people, as long as there is no physical contact and the necessary hygiene and social distancing rules are adhered to. Training sessions with more than five people will be permitted in professional sport.

Large-scale events featuring more than 1,000 people will remain banned until the end of August in a move that the Federal Council hopes will create certainty for those planning such events.

The situation will be reassessed before the summer holiday season and on May 27 the Federal Council will decide on the date from which smaller events with fewer than 1,000 participants can be allowed again.

Professional sport in Switzerland has been suspended since March due to COVID-19, with the country’s top-tier football and ice hockey leagues among the competitions affected.

Switzerland will begin reopening shops, restaurants, markets, museums, libraries and schools from May 11 after the Federal Council revealed that the spread of COVID-19 has continued to slow in the country.

World Para Athletics Championships

Next year’s World Para Athletics Championships in the Japanese city of Kobe have been rescheduled to 2022 following the postponement of the Tokyo Paralympics.

The Championships had originally been scheduled for September 17-26, 2021 but will now be held from August 26 to September 4, 2022 to avoid a clash with the Paralympics, which have been moved from 2020 to 2021 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Kobe event will take place at the Universiade Memorial Stadium, with around 1,300 athletes from 100 countries set to compete.

Churchill Downs

The Churchill Downs racetrack in Kentucky has received approval from state officials to reopen stable areas on May 11, after which point it will begin staging spectator-free races.

The stable areas will reopen under a phased, systematic approach. Churchill Downs, home of the famous Kentucky Derby race, will announce details of the opening day of its 2020 Spring Meet in the coming days.

A number of precautions and procedures based on criteria set by public health experts will be implemented to ensure the safety of employees, stakeholders and horses. The stables had originally been due to reopen on March 17, having been closed since the end of last year for annual winter renovations.

When racing does return to Churchill Downs, it will be staged on a minimum of four days per week. Tickets for previously-scheduled May race dates will be automatically refunded at the point of purchase and ticket holders will receive an email with additional details. Tickets for June races will be addressed at a later date.

The Kentucky Derby has already been moved from May 2 (this weekend) to September 5.

MotoGP

The MotoGP motorcycling series has been forced to cancel events in Germany, Netherlands and Finland. The events had been due to run from June 19-21, June 26-28 and July 10-12, respectively.

The Netherlands and Germany have extended bans on mass events until the end of August. Corresponding MotoE World Cup, Northern Talent Cup and MotoGP Rookies Cup events have also been cancelled.

MotoGP is still hopeful of starting its season in Europe at the end of July and Carmelo Ezpeleta, chief executive of series promoter Dorna Sports, has said that some circuits may host races on consecutive weekends.

The MotoGP season had been due to get underway in Qatar last month. The next scheduled race on the original calendar is in Czech Republic on August 9.

Image: Marc Dalmulder