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Coronavirus update: Fifa postpones Women’s World Cups, Japanese leagues pushed back, and more,

Fifa's headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland (by Valeriano Di Domenico/Getty Images)

Fifa has postponed all men’s and women’s international matches due to be played in June, as well as this year’s Under-20 and Under-17 Women’s World Cups.

The U20 competition was to be held in Panama and Costa Rica in August and September, and the U17 competition in India in November.

The postponements were decided at the first meeting of the Fifa-Confederations working group, which was set up to address the coronavirus crisis.

Fifa said it would start talks with confederations to create a revised schedule for men’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers.

A decision on the Futsal World Cup scheduled for Lithuania in September will be made by the end of this month.

Football’s world governing body also decided to keep the age eligibility criteria for the postponed Olympics football tournaments the same as they were for the original dates for Tokyo 2020. This means that the age limit has been essentially raised by a year to 24 years, and that teams will be able to enter the same squads that they had planned for this year’s competition.

Fifa is also creating a ‘global support fund’ for football, and said it would appoint one person per confederation to coordinate with it on the topic.

Japanese baseball and football leagues postponed again

Japan’s top baseball and football leagues on Friday abandoned plans to resume play in April.

Kyodo News reported that Nippon Professional Baseball said it planned to restart in May, although did not give an exact date. The J.League football competition did not give a target date for its restart either. Both leagues have been suspended since February.

The two leagues last week met with medical experts in the fifth sitting of a task force they jointly formed to tackle the coronavirus crisis.

NPB previously intended to get going again on either April 10 or 24. The league’s commissioner Atsushi Saito said it would consider reducing its 143-game schedule, would prioritise the regular season, would try to fit in the season-ending Japan Series, and could play in empty stadiums.

New Zealand cricket tours ‘unlikely’

New Zealand’s cricket tours of the Netherlands, Scotland, Ireland, the West Indies, Bangladesh and India scheduled for June-August are unlikely to happen, New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White has said.

The upcoming women’s national team tour of Sri Lanka has also been postponed.

NZC is applying to use the country’s government wage subsidy scheme to help pay employees during the next 12 weeks. NZC staff and management have agreed to use their leave entitlements to switch to a four-day week until the end of the financial year on July 31.

Other news

The International Swimming League has said it will pay its contracted athletes in monthly instalments from September through to next year’s rescheduled Olympics. The swimmers are guaranteed $1,500 per month, and $11m has been set aside to cover wages, bonuses, prize money and other payments in a condensed, five-week season planned for whenever travel restrictions are lifted.

The boxing world heavyweight title fight between the UK’s Anthony Joshua and Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev scheduled for June 20 has been postponed. The fight was to take place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. Pulev has said he will donate half his purse to medical workers fighting the coronavirus.

Several retired and currently playing cricket stars have said they would like to see a shortened Indian Premier League played later this year. The Board of Control for Cricket in India is yet to reschedule the competition, which was originally due to run from March until May. Agence France-Presse reported that retired English cricket star Kevin Pietersen said: “There could be a way in which to get some money into the franchises, into the economy by having a situation where you use maybe three venues which are completely closed to fans…And the players can still go out and play the tournament in three weeks or in four weeks.”

Next year’s Badminton World Championships in Huelva, Spain in August are to be rescheduled due to a clash with the new dates for the Tokyo Olympics.

The International Hockey Federation has extended the suspension of its men’s and women’s Pro League competitions, and now plans to play in July and August. Each competition features nine national teams, playing home and away matches around the world.

New Zealand Football has asked Fifa for financial support during the pandemic. Football’s world governing body has said it will use some of its cash reserves to help football organisations. Stuff.co.nz reported that NZF was projected to have cash reserves of NZ$5.5m ($3.2m/€3m) at the end of 2019.

World Triathlon has suspended all its events that were scheduled to take place in the period to June 30, extending an earlier suspension that ran to April 30. The affected events include the the World Triathlon Series in Yokohama in May, three African events, three American events, four Asian events, eight European events and one event in Oceania.