Wednesday evening’s Premier League clash between Manchester City and Arsenal has been postponed after the Gunners’ players and staff were forced into quarantine as the coronavirus begins to take a serious grip of the UK.
The outbreak in Arsenal’s camp came after a number of their unnamed players and coaching team met with Olympiacos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis following their Europa League clash – Marinakis has since confirmed on his Twitter feed that he has contracted Covid-19.
At the time of writing, there is no suggestion that the Arsenal players have contracted coronavirus, and for now their isolation is simply a precautionary measure.
“The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing Covid-19 at extremely low,” a spokesperson for the club said.
“However, we are strictly following the government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact.”
So far, there are no plans to cancel their scheduled Saturday trip to Brighton in the Premier League, with the Seagulls’ spokesperson confirming that ‘…the risk is considered extremely low with the self-isolation period for those [affected] players ending on Thursday.’
The question of risk is an issue for Wolves though in their pursuit of the Europa League title.
They are scheduled to travel to Greece to take on Olympiacos tomorrow, and will be forced to do so after UEFA rejected their calls for a postponement.
Spanish outfit Getafe have also lobbied for a postponement of their Europa League contest with Inter Milan for fears of travelling to Italy – one of the worst hit countries in the Western world.
The players’ unions of Spain – the AFE – and Italy (AIC) have spoken to UEFA officials about a suspension to games involving teams from the respective countries, but their wishes have also fallen on deaf ears so far.
World Sport Laid Low by Coronavirus
So far, the Premier League is the only one of Europe’s major competitions to have largely avoided disruption courtesy of the coronavirus.
Over in Italy, Serie A matches have been played behind closed doors – until the government intervened and has said that all sport in the country will be suspended until April at the earliest.
Spanish football has also now followed suit and implemented a behind closed doors policy – although the AFE is lobbying for a complete suspension, while the same principles in Germany and Austria mean that upcoming Champions and Europa League games involving Chelsea (against Bayern Munich) and Manchester United (against LASK) will also be played to an attendance of zero.
So far, the UK government has resisted calls to put a temporary halt on mass gatherings like football matches and the Cheltenham Festival, but over in the USA officials in Silicon Valley have banned events where 1,000 people or more would gather – with criminal penalties for non-compliance.
Meanwhile, in Austria, outdoor gatherings of 500 people or more have been temporary outlawed, while a ban on indoor events of 100 or more attendees has also been implemented.