Virus hits sport with cancellations, possible quarantine


DÃœSSELDORF, Germany (AP) – The escalating virus outbreak brought more disruption to the sporting world Saturday, with games canceled or played without spectators and news of possible quarantine for some athletes.

Saturday’s game between Strasbourg and Paris Saint-Germain in the French soccer league was postponed the day before, while players from Liverpool and Bournemouth were the first in the English Premier League to go without pre-game handshakes.

British sporting events could soon be held without spectators, with a meeting between sports bodies, broadcasters and the government set to take place on Monday. A full slate of Serie A soccer games in Italy, which has Europe’s largest number of virus cases, will be played Sunday in empty stadiums.

In a rare case of an elite athlete being directly affected by the outbreak, the women’s Six Nations rugby game between Scotland and France on Saturday was postponed after a Scottish player was diagnosed with the virus. The Scotstoun leisure complex in Glasgow, where the game was due to be played, was closed.

The Russian national women’s football team is facing quarantine after playing a game in Germany amid the escalating COVID-19 outbreak.

Team doctor Eduard Bezuglov told Russian news agency RIA Novosti on Friday that the players’ clubs had been given recommendations based on a decree from Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin.

The city has ordered anyone returning from countries with virus outbreaks, including Germany, to isolate themselves for 14 days.

“I’m sure they will all follow the recommendations. After all, you don’t joke with these things. Looking after the players’ health is the main thing right now,” Bezuglov told RIA Novosti.

Russia beat Kosovo 5-0 in a European Championship qualifier played in the German city of Wiesbaden on Friday because Russia doesn’t recognize Kosovo as a state.

Around the world, more countries are cancelling sporting events or holding them without spectators.

Saudi Arabia announced there would be no spectators for competitions starting Saturday. The kingdom has five confirmed cases and has restricted other gatherings, including halting all pilgrimages in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site.

The Central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan has not reported any virus cases but is cancelling sporting events as a precaution “until the situation stabilizes,” the State Agency for Youth, Fitness and Sports said in a statement.

Central Asian governments have been wary of the virus spreading. The Asian weightlifting championships, a key Olympic qualifier, were called off Friday. They had been due to be hosted by Uzbekistan next month.


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A fan wearing a protective mask attends at the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Bournemouth at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Saturday, March 7, 2020. (AP Photo/Jon Super)