Italian gov’t orders all sports to be held behind closed doors

The Italian government has declared all sports in the country will be played behind closed doors until April 3 in an effort to contain the coronavirus.

Italy is the worst-hit country in Europe, with over 3,000 positive tests and 107 deaths.

This week’s Italian Cup semi-finals between Juventus and AC Milan and Napoli and Inter Milan had already been postponed, along with several Serie A games last weekend and the Women’s Six Nations match between Italy and England.

England’s Six Nations game with Italy on March 14 will now be played without any fans at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.

Inter Milan president Steven Zhang says shutting out fans is the best solution.

“Closing doors but continuing matches is the right thing to do,” he told BBC Sport.

“It is important for people not to panic and it feels like many people are doing the right things, like washing hands, which definitely helps. As a football club, we have a responsibility to deliver the right message. Safety is the highest priority.

“Closing the doors to a match is difficult for many reasons but in the end, in order to continue with the calendar and continue with normal activities, we have to take these decisions.”

Inter have had two Serie A games postponed and played a Europa League match against Ludogorets behind closed doors at the San Siro on February 27.

Meanwhile, all football matches in Morocco will be played without fans from yesterday, the Moroccan football association (FRMF) said on Wednesday after the north African country reported its first coronavirus case.

A 39-year-old Moroccan man coming from the northern Italian city of Bergamo was Morocco’s first registered case of coronavirus on Monday, the health ministry said.

Morocco has cancelled an international agricultural fair, due to take place in April, along with many other cultural and sports events as authorities continue to implement precautionary measures at entry points and hospitals to prevent the spread of the virus. – Eurosport

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