(Rugby League) Australia and New Zealand pull out of World CupSports | 22 Jul 2021 4:17 pm
Australia and New Zealand have withdrawn from this year's Rugby League World Cup in England due to player welfare and safety concerns amid the pandemic, organizers announced on Thursday, Reuters reports.
The Rugby League World Cup is scheduled to begin on Oct. 23, with the final to be played on November 27.
The Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) and New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) said they had again requested organisers to postpone the event until 2022 to "minimise risk of players contracting COVID-19".
"The decision to withdraw from the RLWC2021 comes after considering the risk of COVID-19 infection in the United Kingdom, the worsening environment in Australia and the time a majority of NRL (National Rugby League) players will spend away from home under strict biosecurity conditions prior to the World Cup," they said in a joint statement.
Infections are increasing in the UK https://graphics.reuters.com/world-coronavirus-tracker-and-maps/countries-and-territories/united-kingdom, with 47,114 new infections reported on average each day.
The UK has recorded 5.5 million confirmed infections and 128,896 total deaths, according to a Reuters tally.
Rugby League World Cup organizers said the withdrawal of the two major rugby nations was "disappointing."
"RLWC2021 were informed at very short notice and will continue discussions with all stakeholders to agree on the best way forward. A further statement will be made in due course,'' organizers said in a statement.