Spectators have their temperature measured as they enter the Via Del Mare Stadium in Lecce, Italy, Sunday, March 1, 2020 prior to the Serie A soccer match between Lecce and Atalanta. Photo: Donato Fasano/LaPresse via AP
Spectators have their temperature measured as they enter the Via Del Mare Stadium in Lecce, Italy, Sunday, March 1, 2020 prior to the Serie A soccer match between Lecce and Atalanta. Photo: Donato Fasano/LaPresse via AP

UEFA not worried - yet - on Euro 2020 as coronavirus hits sport

Time of article published Mar 3, 2020

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BERLIN  European football governing body UEFA remains relaxed about the status of the pan-continental Euro 2020 despite the global health situation following the coronavirus outbreak.

"We're in touch with the authorities. We're in the hands of the local authorities and we'll deal with whatever they tell us," UEFA spokesman Phil Townsend said after Monday's executive committee meeting in Amsterdam.

"We're in constant contact with the WHO (World Health Organization)."

While UEFA hopes for business as usual, the Formula One season is also set to start as planned on March 15 in Australia but MotoGP suffered a second cancellation in Thailand.

UEFA's top committee did not consider concrete measures to be taken at Euro 2020 or the possibility of the event being cancelled. Rather the discussion was focussed on the play-offs, scheduled for March 26 and 31, in which 16 countries compete for the four remaining finals berths.

The tournament kicks off in Rome on June 12 and is played in a dozen countries to the London final on July 12.

But Townsend did play down how much influence UEFA may have on the final decision depending on events.

"The authorities on the ground are in control of the situation, not UEFA," he said. "UEFA is a sports governing body."

Italy has seen several top-flight Serie A matches scheduled for the north of the country postponed in the last two weeks.

Monday's Serie A fixture between Sampdoria and Verona has become the latest match delayed till May but Italian Cup semi-finals later this week are currently to go ahead.

The semifinal in the Italy Cup football tournament between Juventus Turin and AC Milan is to take place without fans from Milan due to the coronavirus epidemic, according to a statement by Juventus on Monday.

Fans from the Lombardy region, where the European outbreak of the novel coronavirus is concentrated, will not be able to attend Wednesday's game.

The ban also applies to people from Veneto and Emilia Romagna, and also the Pesaro, Urbino and Savona regions, given the higher level of infections in those areas.

Fans able to attend the matches were advised in the statement to come early as extra time would be needed to check people's identity documents.

Switzerland saw cancellations too, as all first and second-division football matches scheduled for March were called off due to the epidemic.

The 20 clubs that make up the Swiss Football League reached the decision in Bern on Monday.

If the Swiss authorities' current ban on events - currently running until March 15 - is not extended, football games will recommence on April 4 and 5.

It was unclear on Monday whether the Europa League game between Eintracht Frankfurt and FC Basel, planned for March 19, would go ahead.

The UEFA congress and Nations League draw will take place as planned in Amsterdam on Tuesday.

Teams and equipment are scheduled to arrive as usual in Australia in the coming days despite the increasing number of Covid-19 infections and entry bans enforced on several countries.

However, Italy - home to teams Ferrari and Alpha Tauri, and tyre provider Pirelli - is not yet impacted by a ban.

The fourth race of the season, in China, has already been postponed while grands prix in Bahrain and Vietnam are in doubt.

Australian race chief Andrew Westacott insisted "we are all systems go" for the Melbourne event.

In contrast Thailand pulled the plug March 22 MotoGP a day after Qatar scrapped the March 8 season-opener and the coming biathlon World Cup in the Czech Republic will take place behind closed doors.

Thailand's Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul told reporters Monday that the event has not been cancelled but it is indefinitely postponed "until it's safe."

MotoGP organizers confirmed the decision, saying it was "evaluating" the possibility of staging the race later in the season.

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis announced the March 5-8 biathlon World Cup in Nove Mesto would take place but without fans following a meeting of the national security council in Prague.

Czech authorities will consider further measures regarding large scale events in the coming days. Organizers had expected up to 100,000 people to attend.

The governing IBU said accepted the decision and reiterated it "will follow any regulations and demands made by national authorities regarding the spread of the coronavirus."

And the junior weightlifting world championships, due to start March 13 in Bucharest, have also been cancelled.

Governing body IWF said "the health and wellbeing of participants has been a key priority," in accepting the request of the Romanian national federation not to proceed.


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