Sport NRL's horrifying advice on coronavirus crisis

01:46  25 march  2020
01:46  25 march  2020 Source:   wwos.nine.com.au

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The NRL has suspended the 2020 season due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The league also announced it will close its offices from Tuesday until at least May 1, forcing hundreds of staff across all departments to take annual leave. 'GOOD LUCK TO THEM': NRL ' s unlikely ally amid

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Todd Greenberg wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg. © Getty NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg. The NRL's biosecurity and pandemic expert warned about players dying and does not expect rugby league to resume this year.

The professor spoke to The Sydney Morning Herald in the wake of the NRL shutdown, on the condition of anonymity to avoid unwanted attention.

Even though the NRL was desperate to continue to stave off a financial crisis, the expert advice that league bosses received was horrifying. Players were not safe from fatalities and could contribute to a vast spread of COVID-19.

"What if one of your players gets sick and dies? Is it worth taking the risk of losing a player in the prime of their career?" the professor told the Herald.

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"That perception that it's mild, it's not a problem, is not correct. Young people have died. Children have died in this epidemic. It's not always a mild disease. A lot of people who are younger who are filling up the ICUs in the United States, even in NSW, a large number of the cases are in the 30s age group.

"If it's spreading in young people, the players are getting together every week for the games, congregating in groups creates a risk of transmission because one of them has asymptomatic infection, they could spread it and then the families and other loved ones, staff, doctors, physios and other teammates could get it ..."

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said that there was no alternative to closure given the advice.

While the NRL has forecast a $500 million black hole if the competition can't resume this year, and is making plans for a relaunch as late as September, its expert is not optimistic about rugby league being played in 2020.

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The AIDS crisis of 1986-7, when I was health secretary, was the first. “It presented a particular set of “I followed the advice I was given, I might say in the face of some opposition, and we had more success than Parliament is still open to push through emergency laws during coronavirus pandemic.

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The health risk, across Australia and worldwide, is simply too extreme.

"I don't think it's going to be this year," she told the Herald. "I think we will be dealing with this epidemic for the better part of this year. I'm really hoping we will have a vaccine next year.

"The idea is to manage the catastrophic disruption to society until we can vaccinate people and protect them. Then we can resume normal societal functions — like sport. But that won't be any time this year."

Of greater concern is the scope of the COVID-19 disaster, with the expert saying that Australia's governments had failed to contain the outbreak in its early stages and was still on an upwards curve.

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