The world of sports is gradually coming to a halt due to the spread of coronavirus. The impact is forcing the suspension of sports activities along other events that functions through large gatherings.
The Union of European Football Association (UEFA) has announced that the Champions League and the Europa League may be suspended in an effort to curtail the spread of the virus. UEFA made the announcement on Thursday as concern over the welfare of fans and footballers heightened in Europe.
“In the light of the ongoing development in the spread of COVID-19 across Europe and the changing analysis of the World Health Organization, 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 videoconference on Tuesday 17 March 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,” the statement from UEFA said on Thursday.
The WHO has published further findings about the coronavirus that require further precautionary measures, especially from those in the sports business. Scientists now believe that coronavirus can survive in the air for three hours, and it can stay alive on copper for four hours, and 24 hours on cardboard and 72 hours on plastic and steel.
The recent finding puts the entire world of athleticism in an impossible position following the number of athletics who have been confirmed positive since the past two days.
Juventus defender Daniele Rugani tested positive on Wednesday, Sampdoria also announced that Manolo Gabbiadini has been confirmed positive on Thursday. In Madrid, one of the club’s basketball players has also tested positive and the entire squad has been placed in two weeks isolation. The Champions League match between Real Madrid and Manchester City has been suspended for two weeks.
For the first time since World War II, Italy imposed restriction on the movement of its citizens. The country is the second most badly hit by the COVID-19 after China, forcing the government to place public activities on hold. Italians are urged to stay at home and the Serie A and Serie B have been indefinitely called off.
The Spanish first and second division leagues have been postponed for two weeks while the Champions’ League match between Barcelona and Napoli will likely be called off. The earlier decision has been to play the match behind closed doors, but the recent development is presenting an inevitable choice of postponement that UEFA may likely accept.
Meanwhile, both the Dutch Eredivisie and the Portuguese have both been suspended while the Ireland Football Association has announced the all football matches under its jurisdiction have been placed on hold until March 29.
French and German games will be played this weekend without fans. The English Premiership seems to be the only league in Europe that has not been entirely disrupted. But the Football Association announced on Wednesday that the game between Arsenal and Manchester City has been postponed as a precautionary measure.
In the US, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has suspended the league for the rest of the season as the number of cases and deaths keep rising.
Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix has been canceled after a member of the McLaren team tested positive and the boxing match between Shakur Stevenson and Michael Conlan’s has been forced behind closed doors.
With 133,181 cases and 4,950 deaths, the WHO has declared the outbreak a pandemic and discourages gathering of large crowds as a proactive measure to contain the surge.
Therefore, the UEFA meeting will likely result in suspension of the Champions League and Europa League, following the steps of other sports bodies around the world. Most cities in affected countries are banning the gathering of 500 people and above. The New York City Governor Cuomo has announced that the state is adopting that approach, which will make it impossible for sports activities to hold with spectators.
Sports analysts are calling for league bodies in Europe to call sporting events off, especially in the face of defiant attitude by the British government. Sports analyst Piers Morgan hit out at the British government on Thursday for allowing large gatherings to continue and sports events to continue.
“Britain is not closing schools, banning sports events, or stopping any large public gatherings. Little difference between the ‘contain’ & ‘delay’ phase,” he tweeted. “Yet so many other countries are doing all those things, including Ireland as from tonight. Why the contrary advice”?