Sports try to combat spread of coronavirus

David Smith
(Australian Associated Press)

 

No handshakes, high fives or selfies.

The world of sport is desperately trying to combat the spread of the coronavirus by minimising risks wherever possible.

The NBA has told players to avoid high-fiving fans and strangers and avoid taking any item for autographs as the league monitors the coronavirus crisis that has spread to most corners of the planet.

Major League Baseball said its players should avoid taking balls and pens from fans to sign autographs but it has no plans yet to cancel or postpone games.

England cricketers were encouraged not to shake hands on their tour of Sri Lanka, being told to use fist bumps instead to greet each other.

Football clubs in Europe have begun asking players, staff and officials not to shake hands in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Premier League sides Newcastle United, Southampton, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers have banned handshakes at training sessions, while Scottish football’s governing body has instructed clubs to suspend pre-match and post-match handshakes with immediate effect.

German side Borussia Dortmund told players and staff not to sign autographs or pose for selfies and will no longer allow members of the public at training sessions.

Leipzig apologised after some Japanese fans were reportedly ejected from the club’s Bundesliga match against Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday due to fears of the virus.

Spanish authorities say major soccer games involving Italian teams will be played in empty stadiums, including the second leg between Valencia and Atalanta in the round of 16 of the European Champions League.

Spain’s Health Ministry said the Europa League game between Getafe and Inter Milan in southern Madrid on March 19 will also be played without fans.

Ten Serie A matches and the Italian Cup semi-final between Juventus and AC Milan have been postponed.

A manager of the Confidis cycling team, who has been in quarantine in Abu Dhabi due to coronavirus concerns, has threatened to go on hunger strike unless his team are allowed to leave the UAE.

Roberto Damiani told Reuters that despite testing negative for the virus about 50 guests, including 18 cyclists, have been confined to the Crowne Plaza hotel since Thursday.

“I hope I won’t have to start it (hunger strike)… We want to respect the country’s laws, but respect should go both ways,” he said.

England rugby international Mako Vunipola has gone into self-isolation because of the coronavirus outbreak after travelling through Asia and may miss his team’s last two Six Nations rugby matches.

Ireland’s scheduled game against Italy in Dublin this Saturday was postponed because of the outbreak, but Six Nations officials said on Monday that all of the other matches were going ahead as planned.

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