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BBC's racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght
"There were no dissenting voices at Leicester today"
 real 14k

Trainer Mark Pitman
"The next 48 hours are very crucial"
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Clerk of the course at Cheltenham, Simon Claisse
"We are trying to establish whether or not we can take responsibility for the movement of horses to our site"
 real 14k

Leading trainer Kim Bailey
"We are potentially taking this disease around with us"
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BBC rugby correspondent Ian Robertson
on Wales v Ireland cancellation
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BBC Sport's James Pearce reports
on the effect on Lamborn's racing community
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Tuesday, 27 February, 2001, 23:42 GMT
Sport in chaos as crisis deepens
Scott Gibbs tackles Ronan O'Gara, Ireland v Wales, 2000
The Wales-Ireland game will be played at a later date
The Six Nations rugby union international between Wales and Ireland in Cardiff is the latest sporting casualty of the foot-and-mouth disease crisis.

Horse racing in the UK has been suspended for seven days, and next month's Cheltenham National Hunt Festival is in serious doubt.

There are growing fears the Grand National at Aintree on 7 April could also be affected.

And participation sports, such as angling and canoeing, are being hit as the outbreak ravages the sporting programme.

Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan explained the reasoning behind the Six Nations tie being called off.

"There is an increased risk to the livestock industry the length and breadth of Wales from the infection being carried by rugby supporters," he said.

He said there was concern over Irish fans arriving at the port of Holyhead, passing through the exclusion zone around Gaerwen and going south to Cardiff and back.

Tournament sponsors Lloyds TSB said the match would be re-arranged for late April or early May.

Saturday's two other scheduled games, the Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham and France's trip to Rome to face Italy, will go ahead as planned.

The British Horseracing Board and Jockey Club have already abandoned all UK meetings until 7 March.

Wednesday's Chepstow meeting had already been called off - but the week-long ban also puts the Cheltenham Festival in grave doubt.

Mick Fitzgerald on See More Business after winning The Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1999
Racing fans fear they may not be a Cheltenham Gold Cup at all this year

The Irish government has also announced the suspension of all horse and greyhound meetings.

And in motorsport, both the Malcolm Wilson Rally in Cumbria on Saturday and the Rally of Wales have been postponed.

But it is not just high-profile spectator events that have been hit by the first outbreak of the disease in Britain for more than 20 years.

Participation sports are also suffering:

  • The body representing Britain's 1m anglers has called on its members to stay out of the countryside;

  • The British Canoe Union has issued a notice to all its clubs and members cancelling all forthcoming events and courses.

When the last major outbreak of foot-and-mouth happened in the UK in 1967, Ireland cancelled two rugby union international matches against the New Zealand tourists.

But the last time matches in the Five Nations tournament were called off for non-rugby reasons was back in 1972.

Scotland and Wales both cancelled matches in Dublin against Ireland because of terrorist threats from the IRA.

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See also:

27 Feb 01 |  Wales
Wales-Ireland clash in doubt
23 Feb 01 |  Other Sports
Foot-and-mouth claims race meeting
27 Feb 01 |  Other Sports
Racing in Britain abandoned
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