Italian government shuts fans out of all sport until April, Australian team pulls

Milan: All sporting events in Italy will take place without fans present for at least the next month due to the virus outbreak in the country, the Italian government announced on Wednesday.

That will likely see Italian soccer league resume in full this weekend after the calendar was pushed back a week.

A EuroLeague basketball match in Milan played in an empty stadium because of coronavirus.Credit:Getty Images

Australian cycling team Mitchelton-Scott and Dutch team Lotto Jumbo Visma have also pulled out of Saturday's Strade Bianche, one of several cycling races in Italy under threat because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Mitchelton-Scott confirmed they have pulled out of seven other races scheduled until March 22 as a precautionary measure in response to the outbreak.

Their men's team will be absent from GP Industria, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, while the women’s team will miss Ronde van Drenthe, Danilith Nokere Koerse and the Trofeo Alfredo Binda.

The Australian team added it had notified sport's governing body UCI of its decision to withdraw and that it would monitor the situation before deciding on its participation in events after March 22.

Italy is the epicentre of Europe's coronavirus outbreak. More than 100 people have died and more than 3000 have been infected with COVID-19.

The Italian government issued a new decree on Wednesday evening, with measures it hopes will help contain the spread of the virus.

All sporting events throughout the country must take place behind closed doors until April 3. Schools and universities have been ordered to close until March 15.

That also calls into question Italy's Six Nations rugby match against England in Rome on March 14. That match will either have to go ahead behind closed doors or be postponed. Italy's match against Ireland, which was scheduled for March 7, had already been postponed.

The Italian soccer league's governing body has yet to release a revised schedule but reports say the six Serie A soccer matches that were postponed last week will now be played this weekend.

That includes one of the biggest matches of the season – the Juventus-Inter game, known as the "Derby d'Italia" or Italy's derby.

Four Serie A matches went ahead last weekend with fans present as they were taking place in areas that had not been affected by measures to control the outbreak.

A decree on Sunday extended the suspension of all sporting events in Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna until March 8.

The region of Lombardy is the epicentre of Italy's outbreak and there are further clusters in the other two northern regions.

Elsewhere, several cycling teams confined to a luxury Abu Dhabi hotel have been instructed by the state's health authorities to remain in quarantine until March 14 due to coronavirus concerns.

AP, Reuters

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