Caleb Ewan is one of the cyclists being tested for the coronavirus on the cancelled UAE Tour. Image by EPA PHOTO

sport

Coronavirus impacts Aust cyclists, sports

2020-02-28 18:51:25

Cycling ace Caleb Ewan is among Australians being tested for coronavirus as the impact of the outbreak spreads to other sports in the nation.

Ewan and other Australian cyclists might have been exposed to the potentially deadly virus at the UAE Tour, which has been cancelled after two Italian team members had tested positive.

“Two Italian staff members of one of the teams participating in the UAE Tour have tested positive for the novel coronavirus,” the UAE Tour posted on Twitter.

Ewan and renowned compatriot Adam Hansen is one of 10 Australian cyclists contesting the tour being screened for coronavirus, which has killed at least 2800 people worldwide.

Australia’s 2017 road race champion Miles Scotson – who had withdrawn from the event after stage one, citing illness – is among those being tested.

The blanket testing of UAE Tour cyclists comes as soccer and rugby union players become the latest Australian athletes affected by the outbreak.

A-League club Perth’s Asian Champions League (ACL) game in South Korea next Wednesday has been postponed, while two Super Rugby matches scheduled for Japan have been shifted to Australia.

The moves come as Japan takes drastic action to curtail the outbreak, amid fears the coronavirus might force the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympic Games due to start in late July.

With cases in the country rising to more than 200, the Japanese government has ordered all schools closed until late March, while urging sporting events in the country to be scrapped for the next two weeks.

In the Emirates, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council cancelled the UAE Tour after the Italians tested positive for coronavirus.

“The decision has been taken to ensure protection of all the race’s participants,” it said.

All cyclists contesting the seven-stage tour, which started on Sunday and had two stages remaining, were being screened for the flu-like virus.

Staff at all cycling teams including Australia’s Mitchelton-Scott, whose leader British cyclist Adam Yates was leading the tour when cancelled, were being tested.

The Mitchelton-Scott outfit including Australians Callum Scotson, Michael Hepburn and Kaden Groves were tested at 5:00am local time.

“We expect results later today … until then, they will remain in the hotel at the request of the authorities,” a team spokeswoman told AAP.

The official race hotel in Abu Dhabi had been sealed off with all riders, staff and journalists forbidden from leaving, pending health checks.

Meanwhile in Australia, the Glory announced Wednesday’s ACL match in South Korea against Ulsan Hyundai FC had been postponed until April 7.

The number of coronavirus cases in South Korea has topped 2000.

Separately, officials from SANZAAR, the governing body of the Super Rugby competition, announced two games involving Japan’s Sunwolves had been shifted to Australia.

The Canberra-based Brumbies’ match on March 6 against the Sunwolves has been moved from Osaka to Wollongong.

And the Sunwolves’ fixture against New Zealand’s champion Crusaders on March 14 has been switched from Tokyo to Brisbane.