• In a joint statement on Thursday, the Australian Rugby League Commission and NZRL suggested that the tournament be postponed until 2022 to avoid the risk of a player catching COVID-19.

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AP |

PUBLISHED ON JUL 22, 2021 01:44 PM IST

Australia and New Zealand have withdrawn from the Rugby League World Cup scheduled to start in October in England, citing player welfare and safety concerns.

In a joint statement on Thursday, the Australian Rugby League Commission and NZRL suggested that the tournament be postponed until 2022 to avoid the risk of a player catching COVID-19.

Last week tournament officials said the event would go ahead with or without defending champions Australia.

“Not participating in this year’s World Cup is not a decision the commission has taken lightly, but we must put the best interests of our players and officials first. Protecting them is our absolute priority,″ said ARLC chairman Peter V’landys.

“In the current environment, the risks to the safety, health and well-being of the players and officials traveling from Australia to participate in the tournament this year are insurmountable.”

The Rugby League World Cup is scheduled to begin on Oct. 23 and the final is scheduled for Nov. 27.