Hockey, baseball competitions called off

Ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to the cancellation of the upcoming Hockey One and Australian Baseball League seasons.

Australia's premier domestic hockey and baseball competitions have cancelled their upcoming seasons because of insurmountable hurdles thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hockey One and the Australian Baseball League both on Wednesday announced decisions to put their competitions on hold for a year, citing difficulties surrounding uncertain interstate and international travel restrictions.

The second season of the new Hockey One competition had recently been rescheduled for a delayed start on October 29, pushed back from the original October 1 opening.

But Hockey One general manager Tony Dodemaide cconfirmed the return of both the men's and women's competitions has now been be postponed until October 2022.

"Having taken into account a host of considerations, by assigning Season 2 to begin in October next year we are optimistic of having freedom of travel and the ability to stage national sporting events across the entire country," Dodemaide said.

"This will also ensure the league has the best hockey talent competing, including the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos athletes who have important international commitments in 2022.

"We looked at an extensive range of options and alternatives to hold the competition in the last quarter of 2021 and then the first quarter of 2022.

"In the end, all exhibited either too high a risk or too much of a compromise to the brand of Hockey One and value proposition that it is based upon."

Dodemaide acknowledged stakeholders' frustrations with the decision to delay Hockey One's return, but said it was out of his control.

Dodemaide added Hockey One remains "vital to the long-term strategy and success of Australian hockey".

Meanwhile, Baseball Australia chief executive Glenn Williams said the ABL will immediately shift its focus to the 2022/23 season.

The ABL last month pushed back this summer's opening day to December, but a February deadline to complete the season made it impossible to further delay the season.

"There is still too much uncertainty around Australia's ongoing COVID restrictions for us to be able to operate a successful ABL season," Williams said.

"We know how much the ABL means to our fans, players, coaches, officials and the wider baseball community and we exhausted all options to try and find a way to conduct a sustainable season, but we couldn't find a way through.

"This is understandably disappointing, but we are confident this is the right decision and in the best long-term interests of the ABL and its teams."

The ABL plans to return to an eight-team competition next year with the re-introduction of Auckland Tuatara and Geelong-Korea, who both withdrew last season.

Australian cycling's international road races - the Santos Tour Down Under, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and the Herald Sun Tour - were scheduled for next January-February but were also cancelled because of the strict pandemic protocols.