Sporting events in UK to go ahead as Italy issues ban

first_imgThe British government stated that all sporting events in Britain will go ahead as planned despite the outbreak while from Italy, Premier Giuseppe Conte on Monday extended measures to tackle the new coronavirus across the whole country, telling people to “stay at home” and banning public gathering as well as Serie A soccer matchesCulture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the BBC on Monday that it would be “premature” to cancel fixtures as officials from a number of sports gathered in London to discuss the impact of the virus.”There’s no reason for people either not to attend such events or to cancel them at this stage, but we keep it under review,” he said. The global sporting calendar is being badly disrupted by the virus, which has infected more than 110,000 people worldwide, with over 3,800 deaths.France’s Six Nations match against Ireland in Paris on Saturday has been postponed — the third game of the tournament to be called off.The decision means that Saturday’s Wales v Scotland match in Cardiff is the only remaining match on the Six Nations program, leaving the tournament unfinished, with the identity of the champions uncertain.Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League home game against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday will be played behind closed doors. The ATP and WTA tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, has been cancelled and Japan’s baseball season has been postponed.The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said senior government officials had held a “constructive meeting with sports and broadcast partners” as part of contingency planning.”This included a discussion of how staging sporting events behind closed doors could work in practice, should the situation change and become necessary,” the DCMS said in a statement.Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney, who was at the meeting, said: The basic message coming out of today is ‘let’s not panic’. Let’s monitor the situation and carry on as normal.”Premier League executive director Bill Bush refused to speculate on the possibility of matches being played behind closed doors.Steve Elworthy, director of special projects at the England and Wales Cricket Board, was also at the meeting.”We are starting to think about contingency planning and it was a great meeting with all the sports around,” he said.From Rome, the unprecedented measures that would be taken by the government would cover the entire Mediterranean nation of more than 60 million people after Italy reported 97 more deaths that took its toll to 463.”I am going to sign a decree that can be summarized as follows: I stay at home,” Conte announced in a dramatic evening television address.”The whole of Italy will become a protected zone,” he said, as reported by AFP.At the same time, Italy’s top sports body also called for all sports events to be cancelled until April 3.After a meeting between representatives from all Italian team sports federations, the National Olympic Committee (CONI) said in a statement the government should intensify its measures against the virus.”Health protection is the top priority for everyone,” the statement said. Reuters reportedHowever, the statement noted international competitions, for both clubs and national teams, do not fall within CONI’s jurisdiction and so can’t be influenced by its decision.This includes UEFA soccer tournaments such as the Champions League, in which Italy’s Serie A leader Juventus is set to host France’s Lyon on March 17, and the Europa League, in which Inter Milan and AS Roma have home games scheduled against Spain’s Getafe and Sevilla on March 12 and 19 respectively.The government had already ordered that all sporting events, including Serie A matches, must be played behind closed doors to avoid crowds of people that could boost the contagion.The closed-doors games at the weekend caused chaos, with Italy’s sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora calling Serie A organizers “irresponsible” after they ignored a late call from the players’ union for the day’s matches to be suspended, which saw Parma’s clash with SPAL delayed by 75 minutes.The previous two rounds of fixtures were heavily disrupted by the spread of the virus as several games were suspended.The Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) had also decided to suspend ticket sales for the Euro 2020 qualifying playoff semi-final between Bulgaria and Hungary on March 26 because of outbreak.Bulgaria reported on Sunday its first cases of the coronavirus and the BFU said that all Bulgarian league matches in the next two rounds will be played in empty stadiums.Topics :last_img

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