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Week on the Punt: UFC 249 postponed, Tour de France in jeopardy

Tour de France

Last weekend was a good refresher, but COVID-19 decided to take away more sports this week. Here are the major talking points in racing and sport at the moment.

UFC 249 pushed back another month

Decisions have been hard to make for UFC president Dana White in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

UFC 249 was scheduled to go ahead on April 18 despite personnel problems and trouble finding a suitable venue, but now the date has been pushed to May 9 as a safety precaution.

White has promised fans of the UFC that he will produce fights sooner rather than later, with upcoming events to be staged at his production facility in Las Vegas.

“We built the Apex facility next door just in time to save the day from this pandemic. Live fights will be produced out of there starting next month and for the foreseeable future,” he said.

If the UFC can continue to churn out fights behind closed doors in Vegas, it will give hope for many other sports like boxing that use similar arenas.

Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival closes with All Aged Stakes

Royal Randwick has been the home of Australia racing for the past few weeks, producing some much-needed entertainment in a world without much else in the way of top-flight sport.

The Sydney Autumn Racing Carnival has flourished in these tough times, but now the final day has come.

The fixtures for Saturday’s Schweppes All Aged Stakes Day is packed with high-class racing, headlined by two Group 1 sprints.

The first of those comes in race five with the Moet & Chandon Champagne Stakes, a $500,000 race that spans 1,600 metres.

But the main event of the day is race seven, the $600,000 Schweppes All Ages Stakes over 1,400 metres.

Although there won’t be any spectators at Randwick, you can bet there will be thousands tuning in to watch the action on TV.

Tour de France the latest event to be cancelled

There are few bigger events on the global sporting calendar than the Tour de France, but the COVID-19 pandemic has forced yet another postponement.

The three-week road race will not start on June 27 as originally anticipated, although there is still a chance the event will take place in 2020.

The Tour de France has not been postponed or cancelled since World War II, meaning the coronavirus has broken a 74-year streak.

The logistical complexity of Le Tour has left administrators struggling to find a way to reschedule the event, which could lead to an outright cancellation if a solution cannot be reached.

The 2020 Tour de France was to feature 21 stages spanning 3,740 kilometres in total, so the organisers have their work cut out.

New Zealand Warriors unlikely to return for NRL 2020 relaunch

The international travel ban could have dire consequences for the NRL’s hopes of saving the 2020 season.

The plan to resume play on May 28 is in doubt as the New Zealand Warriors‘ players and staff will be forced into quarantine for at least two weeks if they make the trip across the Tasman.

If the Warriors can’t make it to Australia in time to prepare for the third round of the home-and-away season, the NRL may look to push ahead without them.

There is a chance the Warriors will be scheduled a catch-up fixture during State of Origin, but that is all speculation at this point in time.

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