Japan to race behind closed doors.

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6 months 4 weeks ago #782246 by Dave Scott
Japan to race behind closed doors. was created by Dave Scott
Racing Post

The Japan Racing Association has banned racegoers from attending meetings from Saturday in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which Cheltenham officials on Wednesday confidently predicted would not affect this year's festival.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has taken measures to limit attendance at its fixtures in recent weeks, something Japan's regulator announced it would also do on Thursday.

Cards are scheduled for Nakayama, Chukyo and Hanshin on Saturday, while the same venues are also due to race on Sunday.

However, a statement from the JRA read: "In measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Japan Racing Association has announced that the public will not be permitted to enter JRA racecourses from Saturday, Feb 29 until further notice. JRA races will be held without any spectators.

"In addition, there will be no sale of betting tickets and payout for winning tickets on racedays or payout on weekdays at all JRA racecourses and off-track betting facilities, including WINS, Park WINS and J-PLACE until further notice. During this time, the sale of betting tickets and payout for winning tickets will be held only via telephone or online betting."

Masayuki Goto, the JRA'S president and CEO, pleaded for patience, saying: "This is a great inconvenience to all our racing fans who look forward to the JRA races on weekends. I humbly ask for your kind understanding and cooperation."

The threat of coronavirus, which spread from China and has gained a foothold in Europe with outbreaks in Italy, was discussed by BHA and Cheltenham officials at a meeting on Monday.

A racing industry steering group, comprising representatives from the BHA, Racecourse Association and horsemen, has been established to consider the implications on the sport, but Cheltenham supremo Ian Renton told the Racing Post on Wednesday: "There have been only 13 cases in Britain and there is a need to be prepared, but we're looking forward to the festival, which is going ahead."

More than 2,000 people are said to have died from the disease, which first emerged in a Wuhan market late last year.

It is not just racecourses which have been affected by the virus, which Playtech said would mean 2020's financial results would be below expectations.

The gambling software company released its full-year figures for 2019 on Thursday, but warned this year's figures would be dented as shares fell to an eight-year low at 279.20p.

That is mainly due to its markets in Asia and Italy being hit by coronavirus and a statement from Playtech said that while negatives of its results and forecasts were "disappointing, we would highlight theimpact is mainly down to the recent unforeseen COVID-19 outbreak".

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