MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The Rugby League World Cup scheduled to begin in October in England was postponed to 2022 on Thursday.
The news had been anticipated after Australia and New Zealand pulled out of the tournament two weeks ago, citing safety fears amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Organizers initially vowed to proceed with the tournament but were forced to acknowledge defeat as all 16 National Rugby League clubs in Australia and New Zealand backed the decision.
Tournament chief executive Jon Dutton said at a media conference Thursday: “Ultimately, time and competing priorities from others forced us to make the most difficult decision in our six-year history. However, we and the sport of Rugby League are resilient, and next year we will deliver our vision of the biggest and best Rugby League World Cup ever. ”
The postponement followed an emergency board meeting on Wednesday.
The tournament was scheduled to begin on Oct. 23. Organizers will now try to avoid a direct scheduling clash with the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which runs Nov. 18 to Dec. 21 in Qatar.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
The Associated Press