SANZAAR has announced that the Super Rugby tournament will be indefinitely postponed at the end of the ongoing round as concerns over coronavirus take a rise.
The decision follows after travel restrictions put in place by New Zealand government which has directed that travellers entering the country should be self-isolated for 14 days in a move to the contain coronavirus.
As a result, the tournament organisers have decided to suspend the remainder of the tournament following the conclusion of the seventh round.
"Following a SANZAAR Executive Committee (EXCO) teleconference in response to the announcement by the New Zealand Government that all returning travellers will have to self-isolate for 14 days, including Super Rugby players, SANZAAR believes it has no option but to suspend the 2020 Super Rugby tournament at the conclusion of this weekend's matches for the foreseeable future," SANZAAR said in a statement.
"Five New Zealand teams play in the 15-team Super Rugby tournament and SANZAAR completely understands the directive issued by the New Zealand Government given concerns globally over the COVID-19 virus and the primary aim to reduce exposure and spread of the virus."
With 11 more rounds left in the season, SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said the priority will be on keeping the players and public safe.
"The safety and welfare of the public, our players and other stakeholders is paramount and as previously stated we were always going to abide by government and health authority instructions on the issue of COVID-19 containment," Marinos said.
"We are extremely disappointed for the players, our fans, broadcasters and partners but given the complexity of our competition structure, and the multiple geographies that we cover, we have no other option but to align with such directives. We also believe it is time for all those players currently overseas to return home and to be with their families.
"Our priority is, therefore, to ensure our players are within their homes territories from the end of this weekend. SANZAAR will also remain engaged with its stakeholders and will continue to explore avenues to see if we can keep the rugby product alive within our core markets, with the possibility to be in a position to resume the tournament if at all possible in future weeks."