SPORTS events in Wales will once again be played behind closed doors from Boxing Day to help control the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant.

Welsh Government ministers spent most of Monday in meetings to discuss introducing further restrictions after First Minister Mark Drakeford confirmed last Friday that nightclubs will close, and two-metre social distancing rules will return after Boxing Day.

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething announced the new measures amid a surge in omicron cases in Wales. The number of confirmed cases of the new variant now stands at 435, with 58 of those cases in Gwent.

The decision comes as some football clubs have already announced Christmas matches have been postponed because of cases of Covid-19 in their squads.

Cardiff City FC has postponed its Boxing Day match against Coventry City due to several cases of Covid-19 in its playing squad and staff. And League Two leaders Forest Green will not be playing Newport County.

In rugby, Dragons' Boxing Day derby clash away to Ospreys has also been called off following positive covid cases in the home team’s camp.

Mr Gething has also confirmed a £3m Spectator Sports Fund will be available to support clubs and sporting venues affected by the new measures.

The Economy Minister said: “Sporting events over the Christmas period are one of the big highlights of the year. Unfortunately, the new omicron variant is a significant development in the pandemic and could cause a large number of infections.

“We need to do everything we can to protect people’s health and control the spread of this awful virus.

“Throughout the pandemic we have followed scientific and public health advice to keep people safe. The advice is clear – we need to act now in response to the threat of omicron. We are giving people as much notice of these decisions as we can.

“Crowds will come back as soon as possible. We want everyone to be here to enjoy their favourite sports.”

Among the upcoming sporting events is the Welsh Grand National horse racing meeting on December 27 at Chepstow Racecourse.