The coronavirus outbreak is playing havoc with the global international sports calendar, with Euro 2020 now in the spotlight and UEFA vice-president Michele Uva uncertain whether Italy’s status as one of 12 host countries for the tournament will be affected.
Uva, a member of the UEFA executive committee, said it was monitoring the situation country by country.
Fans were face masks at the Champions League match between Napoli and Barcelona in Italy.Credit:Getty Images
The death toll in Italy from the crisis reached 11 on Tuesday while more than 320 cases have now been reported, officials said.
A tourist from Lombardy, the worst-affected area, was diagnosed with the virus while on holiday in Sicily, and the regions of Tuscany and Liguria both reported their first cases.
The Italian government has banned sporting events in six regions but has made an exception for Serie A soccer matches which can be played behind closed doors.
Six games are expected to go ahead in empty stadiums at the weekend, including the meeting of Serie A leaders Juventus and third-placed Inter Milan.
“If the data does not give us different indications, it may well be that from March 2 we will not extend the ban on sporting events,” sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora told reporters. “We will see how it develops in the next few days.
“But safety and health come before anything else – before a match or before a full stadium.”
Napoli’s Champions League match at home to Barcelona on Tuesday was not affected but Inter’s Europa League match at home to Ludogorets Razgrad on Thursday will be behind closed doors.
The head of Italy’s swimming federation, Paolo Barelli, told reporters that he was concerned about an Olympic qualifying women’s water polo tournament due to be played in Trieste from March 8-15.
Rome will host a Six Nations match between Italy and England on March 14, with The Times reporting on Tuesday that tournament organisers were already concerned about the fixture. Ireland’s minister for health Simon Harris also said on Tuesday that the Six Nations match against Italy scheduled for March 7 in Dublin should not go ahead.
Japan’s soccer league also postponed all scheduled games until mid-March.
Australian teams playing in the Asian Champions League and in the women’s Olympic qualifiers have also been affected, while the table tennis world team championships in South Korea have been pushed back to June.
Rugby events in Singapore and Hong Kong were postponed until October, Tokyo Olympics qualifying events in various sports moved from China to other countries, and in China the Formula One Grand Prix and world indoor athletics championships were postponed.
South Korea on Tuesday saw the postponement of the world team table tennis championships in the nation’s city of Busan from March 22-29 to the provisional dates of June 21-28. The country had 893 confirmed Covid-19 cases early Tuesday, including eight deaths.
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