Sport

UEFA calls emergency assembly as coronavirus places Ecu competitions doubtful

UEFA has called an emergency meeting next Tuesday to discuss whether the Champions League, the Europa League and Euro 2020 can continue to be played amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Reports from Spain said the Champions League and Europa League could be immediately suspended, following the news that Real Madrid’s players had been quarantined as a precautionary measure after a member of the club’s basketball team tested positive for coronavirus.

That followed news on Wednesday night that Juventus’ Daniele Rugani had tested positive for Covid-19 and that isolation procedures were being put in place for other squad members who may have had contact.

A statement from UEFA on Thursday afternoon said: “In the light of the ongoing developments in the spread of Covid-19 across Europe and the changing analysis of the World Health Organisation, UEFA has today invited representatives of its 55 member associations, together with the boards of the European Club Association and the European Leagues and a representative of FIFPro, to attend meetings by video conference on Tuesday March 17 to discuss European football’s response to the outbreak.

“Discussions will include all domestic and European competitions, including UEFA EURO 2020. Further communication will be made following those meetings.”

It is understood the Europa League matches that had not already been postponed will be played tonight as planned.

The Real Madrid news has led to the postponement of the next two rounds of matches in LaLiga, and puts their Champions League match against Manchester City next week in doubt.

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Real Madrid said in a statement: “Real Madrid reports that a player from our first basketball team has tested positive after testing for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“Since then, the recommendation has been made to quarantine both the basketball first team and the football first team, given that the two squads share facilities in Madrid.

“Likewise, it has been decided to close the facilities of our sports city and it is also recommended that all Real Madrid personnel who provide their services in Real Madrid City remain in quarantine.”

Lewis Hamilton has questioned the decision to stage this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix (David Davies/PA)

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said some of the team’s players have been kept away from the squad as a precaution after showing symptoms.

“We’ve had a few players that have shown symptoms and signs (of coronavirus),” he said.

“We’ve followed procedures and (as a precaution) they have been kept away from the squad.”

The McLaren team have pulled out of the Formula One Australian Grand Prix after a member of staff tested positive for Covid-19.

A statement from Formula One, following the McLaren announcement, read: “Formula 1 and the FIA have been co-ordinating with all the relevant authorities on the next steps. Our priority is the safety of the fans, the teams and all personnel at the race.”

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton earlier criticised his sport’s decision to press ahead with the event.

“I am very, very surprised we are here,” the Briton said.

“It’s great we have races but it’s shocking we are sitting in this room.”

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Meanwhile, the Danish football federation expects the friendly against England at Wembley on March 31 will be cancelled.

The Football Association is following advice from the British Government regarding the staging of sporting events, with the Prime Minister due to lead a Cobra meeting on Thursday.

Ministers are expected to agree at that meeting to move into the ‘delay’ stage of the response against the virus, with 460 confirmed cases in the UK.

Moving to the delay stage would mean social distancing measures could be brought in, such as restricting public gatherings like major sporting events and issuing more widespread advice to stay at home.

England are due to face Italy in a match scheduled for March 27, but with Italy in lockdown it seems hugely unlikely that the game will happen.

Wembley is still set to host two England football friendlies as things stand later this month (Nick Potts/PA)

A number of Scottish sporting events are set to be postponed or played behind closed doors following an announcement by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who told the Scottish Parliament she would recommend the cancellation of gatherings of more than 500 people from Monday.

The decision is set to come into force the day after Rangers host Celtic in one of this weekend’s Ladbrokes Premiership fixtures.

The NBA season has been suspended indefinitely after a Utah Jazz player tested positive ahead of a match against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Basketball’s world governing body FIBA is suspending all its competitions from Friday onwards, while EuroLeague Basketball is also suspended until further notice.

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The Miami Open tennis has also been cancelled. Also in Florida, the Players Championship is set to continue as planned.

A statement from the International Olympic Committee on Thursday reaffirmed its commitment to the 2020 Games in Tokyo going ahead as scheduled, starting on July 24.

“With 19 weeks before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the many measures being taken now by authorities all around the world give us confidence and keep us fully committed to delivering Olympic Games that can bring the world together in peace.”


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