Coronavirus: All sports suspended in Italy until April, nation’s Olympic Committee confirms

The country has been one of the hardest hit by the virus with the northern region of Lombardy – home to an estimated 16 million people – quarantined as authorities bid to contain it

Ben Burrows@benburrows_
Monday 09 March 2020 18:20
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Journalist tells of experiencing zero Coronavirus checks after landing in London from Milan

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has suspended all sport in the country until at least April 3 because of fears over the continued spread of the coronavirus.

The country has been one of the hardest hit by the virus with the northern region of Lombardy – home to an estimated 16 million people – quarantined as authorities bid to contain it.

Serie A resumed on Sunday with five games played behind closed doors in empty stadiums, including the top of the table clash between Juventus and Inter Milan.

Twelve rounds remain, with eight-time defending champions Juve holding a one-point lead over Lazio. Serie A has not been cancelled since World War II.

CONI said its decision does not include international competitions “for clubs or national teams,” since it does not govern those. Juventus, Napoli and Atalanta are each competing in the Champions League, while Inter Milan and Roma are still in the Europa League.

Sport is battling to do what it can to stop the spread of the virus which has killed thousands across the globe and affected many more.

The Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night will go ahead behind closed doors, while RB Leipzig confirmed supporters would be able to attend their match against Tottenham on Tuesday night.

Football’s world governing body Fifa said that 2022 World Cup qualifying matches in Asia due to be played later this month and in June had been postponed.

However, there was scope for individual national associations to still stage matches in the March and June international breaks if they mutually agreed to, and that provisions to ensure the safety of all individuals involved met the required standards. Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation would also have to give their approval to any match going ahead.

The France vs Ireland Six Nations match was postponed on Monday due to concerns over spread of the virus.

The game was due to be played in Paris on Saturday, but will now not go ahead on the advice of the French government.

As it stands, the Wales vs Scotland match is the only game in the final round of the Six Nations due to go ahead as originally scheduled, after the Italy vs England game in Rome was postponed last week.

Other sporting events abroad continue to be affected by the outbreak and organisers of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells have announced that the event will not take place.

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Kim Clijsters were among the players set to take part in the tournament which was due to start in California on Monday.

Indian Wells is the first Premier Mandatory event of the WTA season and is a Masters 1000 event on the men’s tour.

World Snooker confirmed that the attendance in the arena for the Gibraltar Open would be limited to 100 people as a precautionary measure.

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