Atalanta's Josip Ilicic celebrates after scoring a penalty kick during the match of Champions League round of 16 second leg match against Atalanta in Valencia. The was played in an empty stadium because of the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: UEFA via AP
Atalanta's Josip Ilicic celebrates after scoring a penalty kick during the match of Champions League round of 16 second leg match against Atalanta in Valencia. The was played in an empty stadium because of the coronavirus outbreak. Photo: UEFA via AP

Coronavirus affects more football, F1 team members self-isolate

By Barry Whelan Time of article published Mar 11, 2020

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BERLIN  More German football Bundesliga matches will be held behind closed doors this weekend, an English Premier League match was postponed and Thursday's Europa League has been hit by the coronavirus outbreak as sport continues to face disruption.

Three members of Formula One teams were meanwhile in self-isolation as a precaution after being tested for coronavirus ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

A member of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee executive board meanwhile told Kyodo news agency he would propose this year's Games be postponed by one or two years rather than being cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Haruyuki Takahashi said a two-year delay would be easier for organizers to arrange since next year's sports events are largely scheduled.

All Europe's major football leagues have now been affected by the virus outbreak after the Premier League postponed Wednesday's match between Manchester City and Arsenal.

In the German Bundesliga, Union Berlin against leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday, and Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday will be played behind closed doors, local authorities confirmed.

Several matches are already confirmed without fans including the Ruhr derby between Borussia Dortmund v Schalke on Saturday.

Frankfurt's Europa League last-16 match against Basel on Thursday will meanwhile go ahead as planned with spectators even though their league match on Sunday will be without fans.

The Premier League game between Manchester City and Arsenal was postponed "as a precautionary measure," the league said.

It is the first match in the Premier League to be called off due to the coronavirus.

The Premier League said the decision followed the announcement on Tuesday that the owner of English second-tier club Nottingham Forest and Greek side Olympiakos, Evangelos Marinakis, tested positive for the virus.

Arsenal's match against Olympiakos in the Europa League when some players and staff had contact with Marinakis was 13 days ago. The club said some players and staff are self-isolating at their homes until a recommended 14-day period expires.

"The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing Covid-19 at extremely low," a statement said.

The postponement also followed the Spanish league's decision Tuesday to play the top two tiers behind closed doors for at least two weeks. The French Ligue 1 and second division matches are also to be played behind closed doors until April 15, while several other European leagues have taken similar action.

The Italian Serie A has been suspended until April 3 along with all sport in the country.

Five of the Europa League's eight last 16 first-leg matches on Thursday will be played behind closed doors. Both Wolverhampton Wanderers, playing at Olympiakos, and Getafe, playing at Inter Milan, have asked UEFA to postpone their matches.

In Melbourne, two members of the Haas Formula One team and one from McLaren are in self-isolation in their hotels, the teams confirmed. Test results are awaited.

The Formula One season begins with practice sessions on Thursday ahead of Sunday's race. The Bahrain Grand Prix the following week will be behind closed doors, while the Chinese Grand Prix on April 19 was postponed.

dpa

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