In this photo shows yachts sail out of Sydney harbour at the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. File/AFP
Gulf Today Report
Australia's gruelling Sydney to Hobart yacht race was called off on Saturday for the first time in its history because of an escalating coronavirus outbreak.
Organizers said border restrictions forced by Sydney’s new coronavirus outbreak made it impossible to stage the race.
"We are bitterly disappointed to cancel the race this year, especially considering the plans and preparations we had put in place to have a COVID-safe race,” Cruising yacht Club commodore Noel Cornish said in announcing the cancellation.
This photo shows yachts sailing out of Sydney harbour at the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. File/AFP
The decision to pull the plug came the same day authorities in Hobart announced plans to impose a 14-day quarantine requirement on all travellers from Sydney.
Cornish said that with the advice unlikely to lift in the immediate future and the immense logistics involved in trying to reorganise a race with around 100 entrants, it was decided to cancel rather than postpone.The race, first held in 1945, was scheduled to begin Dec. 26 as part of a Boxing Day tradition in Australia. The yachts leave Sydney Harbor amid a huge spectator fleet of boats and travel down the east coast of New South Wales state en route to the island state of Tasmania and its capital Hobart.
The flare-up was a shock for a city that had returned to relative normality after months with very few local cases. More than five million people across Sydney will be subject to movement restrictions from Saturday evening.
A Lamborghini driver pulled over for speeding at 160km/h claimed he was rushing towards the hospital to be tested for coronavirus.
Hundreds of New Zealand plane passengers started arriving in Sydney on Friday as part of a new trans-Tasman travel bubble amid a rapidly falling growth rate in cases at the epicentre of Australia’s coronavirus outbreak.
"It is the most sought after rivalry in cricket and I never miss these games," Himanshu Desai, who has flown in from Harrow in England to watch the game in person, told AFP.
"We have had good practice sessions and I am confident about our preparations. Pakistan's bowlers are known to trouble other teams but I am confident about our batting too."
A buoyant Scotland will begin their Super 12 campaign against a formidable Afghanistan in Sharjah on Monday. Scotland are brimming with confidence after advancing to the Round of Super 12 with two victories from three games in the first round.