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Vanuatu defies coronavirus shutdown with women's final

CRICKET By Associated Press | April 26th 2020
In this May, 2019, photo provided by the Vanuatu Cricket Association players celebrate during a women's cricket match in Port Vila, Vanuatu. The tropical island in the South Pacific is very likely to be the only venue in the world hosting a competitive cricket final on Saturday, as the most international sport remains shuttered around the globe. [Ron Zwiers/Vanuatu Cricket Association via AP]

Some overnight rain couldn't prevent Vanuatu from producing a rarity in these coronavirus-restricted times — a live sporting event.

The tropical island in the South Pacific was likely the only venue in the world hosting a competitive sports final yesterday, as most international sport remains shuttered around the globe.

Vanuatu Cricket Association chief executive Shane Deitz invited anyone missing live action to tune in to a live stream.

And more than 3,000 did at various times during a men's 10-over exhibition match and the women's Twenty20 final won by the Mele Bulls.

The rain meant a scheduled morning women's semifinal wasn't played due to wet grounds.

“It’s one of the only live sports around the world at the moment. We can showcase a bit of cricket for everyone who is in lock down,” Deitz told the Associated Press on Friday

The matches were played at the Vanuatu Cricket Grounds in the capital Port Vila, on the island of Efate. Officials set up four cameras and commentary for the online stream on Vanuatu Cricket’s Facebook site.

The commentators had a bit of fun as well, with one of them suggesting a few fans were getting rowdy “now that the red wine has kicked in.”

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Play was delayed for minute or two when a few children ran on the field, and the commentators apologized for not having many security people at the ground.

Vanuatu went into lock down late last month as a precaution during the coranavirus pandemic, and was then hit by a destructive cyclone on April 6.

Spectators who came to the ground yesterday were asked to bring food or clothing donations for those affected by the cyclone.

The lock down and closed borders meant there were no reported cases of COVID-19 in Vanuatu.

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