As the feat of coronavirus continues spreading across the world and is now affecting sports in multiple dimensions, reports have sensationally emerged that Argentine soccer star, Lionel Messi and other star players of Spain’s top club, Barcelona will be tested for signs of coronavirus ahead of next week’s UEFA Champions League clash with Napoli of Italy, megasportsarena.com reports.
This comes after Spain’s league governing body, La Liga told all 20 clubs in the top-flight that fixtures over the next fortnight will be played behind closed doors, in order to stop the virus from spreading across the country after taking guidance from the Council of Ministers.
The Spanish government announced they have prohibited clubs from playing in public for the next 15 days – a rule La Liga must abide by, thereby affecting the UCL round of 16 second leg between Barcelona and Napoli, which will now be played in front of an empty Nou Camp.
Barcelona feared holding up to just shy of 100,000 people at their stadium could spread the disease among supporters of both clubs, even as their opponents’ country, Italy, was put on lockdown by the country’s Prime Minister, as it has become the worst effected country hit with the disease in Europe.
While all sports action is now on hold on the peninsula, even after four Serie A matches were called off on Sunday, the effects are now ebbing out on Barca, who are due to line out on their Camp Nou home pitch on Wednesday, ahead of which their stars will have their temperatures checked before they face their visitors from Italy, where the disease has claimed 2,500 lives.
Barcelona enter the last-16 first leg home tie on the back of a Messi-inspired 5-0 win over Eibar on Saturday and, though their game against Napoli will hold behind closed doors, anyone showing signs of illness with be taken straight to hospital, as officials avoid any risks.
Barca confirmed on Tuesday morning the Champions League last-16 second leg with Napoli will take place without any fans in attendance, while Paris St Germain’s match with Borussia Dortmund of Germany on Wednesday is also being played behind closed doors.
Similarly, Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Europa League tie at Olympiacos of Greece on Thursday will have no spectators inside the stadium, after UEFA confirmed that AS Roma’s home game with Sevilla in the Europa League on Thursday will be played without fans in attendance.
This comes after Britain’s sports bodies met with government ministers on Monday at a meeting chaired by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to discuss contingency plans in relation to Covid-19.
France against Ireland Six Nations match was postponed on Monday. Ireland had been due to play the match in Paris on Saturday, but it will now not go ahead on the advice of the French government.
As it stands, the Wales versus Scotland match is the only game in the final round of the Six Nations due to go ahead as originally scheduled, after the Italy v England game in Rome was postponed last week.
The French health minister Olivier Veran announced on Sunday evening that all gatherings of more than 1,000 people are now prohibited in the country, meaning Ligue 1 matches must be played behind closed doors or in front of no more than 1,000 spectators.
All domestic sporting action has been suspended in Italy after prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced at a press conference that the whole country would be on lockdown from Tuesday morning.
The country’s national Olympic committee (CONI) originally made the announcement on Monday, but CONI’s jurisdiction does not cover Italian clubs or national teams involved in international competitions, such as football’s Champions League.
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.
There has also been talk that English Premier League and lower division games could be played behind closed doors, but former England and Manchester United defender, Gary Neville, the joint-owner of Sky Bet League Two side Salford, has joined those rejecting that as an alternative.
Neville said: “I do NOT support matches played behind closed doors. If it’s necessary to shut down stadiums the associations must find a way of delaying the season and playing the games when it is safe to do so to protect the revenues for clubs that require this income to survive.”