The spread of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus is impacting the sports world with football and rugby matches called off, a cricket series cancelled and Australia cricket captain Pat Cummins being forced to miss the second Ashes cricket test.
A surge of infections, driven by the new Omicron variant, suggested more postponements and cancellations may follow.
England's Premier League schedule has postponed six games due to COVID-19 outbreaks, taking the total for the past week to nine. League officials, however, intend to continue playing where possible as cases in Britain hit a record for the second straight day on Thursday.
The Premier League found a record 42 cases among players and staff at various clubs this week, leading Brentford manager Thomas Frank to suggest this weekend’s games should be postponed as cases "are going through the roof.”
Frank commented "to postpone this round would give everyone a week at least, or four or five days to clean and do everything at the training ground so everything is clean and you break the chain."
Rugby’s European Champions Cup has also been impacted, with Montpellier’s game at home against Leinster the latest to be postponed.
In North America, the NFL, NHL and NBA have all faced a surge in positive tests over the past three days, forcing players into league-mandated COVID-19 protocols and the postponement of games.
The NFL's Cleveland Browns are down to their third-string quarterback for Saturday's game against the Raiders after starter Baker Mayfield and backup Case Keenum tested positive. The Browns already had 16 players on the reserve/COVID-19 list, with head coach Kevin Stefanski and assistant Ryan Cordell also unavailable because of the virus.
The Los Angeles Rams placed veteran linebacker Von Miller and eight other players on list Thursday, increasing their total to 21 active players and four practice squad members in the health protocols.
In the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers played with no fans in attendance on Thursday night because of the increase in cases. The announcement was made roughly two hours before the start of the game in Montreal.
The Canadiens advised in a statement that "faced with the spiraling rise of COVID-19 cases in the region, late this afternoon the Montreal Canadiens organization received a request from Quebec public health officials to host tonight's game against the Philadelphia Flyers in a closed setting with no fans in attendance at the Bell Centre.
"We have accepted this request in order to help ensure the safety and security of our fans and fellow citizens throughout our community."
In cricket, West Indies' tour of Pakistan has been cut short after the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the touring party rose to nine.
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc said he was self-isolating at home in Monaco after testing positive. The news came after the conclusion of the Formula One season last Sunday.
Locally, Australia cricket captain Pat Cummins is being forced to miss the second Ashes cricket test, which started in Adelaide yesterday, after being in close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile, players from Perth Glory of the A-League Men's competition season are set for a 14-day stint in self-isolation over Christmas after the team’s fixtures for the rest of December were postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the squad.
The Glory confirmed on Thursday an unidentified player has tested positive for the Coronavirus, taking the total number of cases across the A-League men’s and women’s competitions to six.
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