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Updated: Championship suspended as Neptunes player tests positive for COVID-19

This year's national championship that was suspended due to COVID-19. Photo: Jonathan Borg

ASA is reserving the right to take action against the player and Neptunes WPSC

The Aquatic Sport Association announced that the 2020 National Championship has been suspended after a player on the books of Neptunes WPSC has tested positive for COVID-19.

The 2020 Premier Division was set to reach a decisive stage next week when champions Neptunes booked their place into the play-off final after they had the better of Sliema Frank Salt Real Estate 11-7 on Sunday to complete a 2-0 win in the best-out-three semi-final play-off.

Their opponents in the final were due to beat San Ġiljan TUM Invest after the Saints brushed aside Sirens 2-0 to preserve their unbeaten record in this year’s championship.

However, the Aquatic Sports Association of Malta was forced to take the difficult decision of suspending the championship for two weeks after it was informed by Neptunes ASC that one of their players had contracted the virus.

Contacted by the Times of Malta, ASA president Joe Caruana Curran confirmed the news and said that governing body were obliged to take this decision so that both the player and the rest of the Neptunes players will go into self-quarantine, according to the guidelines issued by the public health authorities.

“Following information received that a player of Neptunes WPSC has proven positive for COVID-19, the Executive Committee is suspending both the Premier and First Division competitions with immediate effect in order to carefully address the most appropriate way forward in the current circumstances,” the ASA said in a statement.

“Furthermore, the Executive will investigate the timeline of events prior to the match played on Sunday evening between Neptunes and Sliema, which could shed further light on the situation at hand especially in relation to the fact that the player involved had a swab before taking part in the above-mentioned game instead of isolating himself immediately.

“All the Executive Committee’s rights in terms of ASA rules as well as the laws of Malta, against the player and Neptunes Water Polo Club, are hereby being reserved. The Executive Committee will be making further considerations in the next 48 hours.”

Neptunes and San Ġiljan were due to meet in the first of the best-of-five play-off final on September 29 but now the two teams are expected to face off on the first week of October.

Meanwhile, the ASA president also confirmed that the governing body has also decided to temporarily suspend the First Division championship.

The ASA decision is being taken to ensure that the player who tested positive didn’t make any contact with any other players from this division.

This is the second time that the 2020 National Championship has been suspended due to COVID-19.

In July a player from San Ġiljan and another from Otters had also tested positive forcing the authorities to suspend the championship for a fortnight.

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