US college grouping says no sport before 2021 over virus

US college sport’s elite Big Ten Conference on Tuesday voted to postpone all sport until 2021 because of coronavirus fears, a key decision expected to be followed by other colleges.

In a statement, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren said the decision — which means abandoning the conference’s hugely lucrative and popular autumn gridiron season — was taken with the safety of athletes in mind.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” Warren said in a statement.

“As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.”

Warren added colleges hoped sport could return next year.

“It doesn’t mean that we’re giving up forever,” he said.

The Big Ten is the oldest top tier collegiate conference in the United States. Its 14 members include several powerhouses in the world of US college American football.

The Big Ten conference’s decision could prompt the four other major college sport conferences — the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — to abandon their autumn seasons. ESPN reported Tuesday that the Pac-12 had voted to scrap the autumn schedule.

As well as gridiron, the Big Ten decision means sports such as cross-country, field hockey, soccer and volleyball will also be shelved. (AFP)

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