Australia’s three-match series against the Black Caps will be played in empty stadiums, after Cricket Australia made the decision to close the matches to crowds due to the spread of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the Australian women’s team’s tour of South Africa has been indefinitely postponed due to the virus, although the rest of the Sheffield Shield – which has one round left before the final – will go ahead as scheduled.
“These were not decisions taken lightly, but they are the most responsible courses of action based on expert advice,” CA sports science and sports medicine manager Alex Kountouris said in a statement released Friday morning.
“The health and safety of everyone in the cricket family is paramount and our actions reflect that.
“This is an unprecedented global health situation and, as we’ve seen around the world, serious measures have been taken by many organisations to limit the spread of coronavirus. We are among those.”
The men’s team have a T20 tour of New Zealand coming up soon, starting March 24. A decision has not been made on the future of that series yet, although CA have said one will be made “in due course”.
“We have taken strong action today in the face of an unprecedented public health issue,” CA CEO Kevin Roberts said.
“We believe this is the right decision to minimise the risk of public exposure to the coronavirus, which the World Health Organisation declared a global pandemic on Thursday.
“We understand that these changes to our schedule will impact many, but we hope our community will understand that the public health and safety issues caused by the coronavirus must take priority over sport at this time. This is not an issue specific to cricket.
“Cricket Australia has been monitoring the coronavirus situation for several weeks, particularly looking at advice provided by DFAT and other relevant government agencies, including the Australian Institute of Sport, which has outlined a coordinated approach for all Australian sports. We have also consulted with an infectious diseases specialist.
“Our players and staff have been adopting recommended sanitary practices during this time to minimise the chance of exposure and will continue to do so.”