Coronavirus latest: LaLiga behind closed doors, Italy shuts down, AFC qualifiers moved

A woman wearing antivirus masks on the Naples waterfront in front of the Vesuvius volcano. (Photo by Salvatore Laporta/KONTROLAB/LightRocket via Getty Images)

All public gatherings throughout Italy have been halted by the government until April 3 in order to contain the coronavirus epidemic.

The move extends to the whole country quarantine measures that were earlier applied to the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, and means all sports events are effectively postponed or cancelled.

Travel in and out of the country, and movement between cities, will be restricted. Schools and universities have closed.

Channel News Asia reported that Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte said in an address to the nation: “I am going to sign a decree that can be summarised as follows: I stay at home…

“The whole of Italy will become a protected zone…

“All movement across the country is to be avoided unless motivated by three specific circumstances. Reasons of work, reasons of necessity or health reasons.

“It is prohibited to gather in and outside bars open to the public … We cannot allow ourselves any more these occasions of meeting, which become occasions of contagion. Believe me, it isn’t easy, I am completely aware of the seriousness of these measures for the whole country but I am forced to intervene in a more determined manner.”

Meanwhile, LaLiga has announced today that all matches from the top two leagues in Spain will be played behind closed doors during the next two match weeks.

LaLiga said: “In accordance with information from the High Council of sports (CSD), LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank matches will be played behind closed doors, starting today (March 10) and for at least the next two weeks.

“LaLiga will continue to be in permanent contact with the Ministry of Health and the CSD to follow its recommendations and / or decisions, prioritising the health of fans, players, club employees, journalists, etc., due to the COVID-19 health crisis.

“For several weeks, LaLiga has been working on alternative plans in coordination with UEFA in case health authorities decide to suspend any match, creating a plan to play these matches.”

Postponement of Asian World Cup qualifiers confirmed

Fifa and the Asian Football Confederation confirmed the postponement of most of the qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup that were due to take place during the international windows of March 23-31 and  June 1-9. The two bodies said they may approve some of the matches going ahead, where member associations mutually agree to do so and “provided that the safety of all individuals involved meets the required standards”.

Also confirmed was the postponement of the 2020 AFC Futsal Championship in Turkmenistan, until August 5-16. The event serves as the qualifiers for the 2020 Fifa Futsal World Cup in Lithuania, in September and October.

Upcoming qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic men’s and women’s football tournaments are expected to go ahead as scheduled, except for the women’s playoff between South Korea and China, which has been moved to the June 1-10 international window.

Other news:

Nippon Professional Baseball, the Japanese basketball league, has postponed the start of its 2020 season, originally scheduled for March 20. It is the first time the regular season has been postponed since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. The country’s J-League football league has extended its suspension until at least April 3.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch lighting ceremony in Olympia, Greece on March 11 and 12 will be held without spectators for the first time since 1984. Greece on Sunday announced a two-week ban on sporting events with spectators.

Korean KBO baseball teams have sent their foreign players to train in their home countries. KBO teams have been cancelling overseas training camps, as countries have imposed travel restrictions on South Koreans. The KBO cancelled preseason games this year, and is considering postponing the start of its regular season.

The Korean women’s professional basketball league has halted games from today. It had been playing games without spectators since February 21.

Manchester United’s #ILOVEUNITED fan event in Delhi on March 15 has been postponed indefinitely.

Vietnam’s longest-running marathon, the Tiền Phong Newspaper Marathon has been moved from March 22 to May 17. It follows other mass participation events to be delayed in the country, including: Spartan Race Vietnam in HCM City, Wow Marathon Phú Quốc in Kiên Giang Province, Dalat Ultra Trail in Lâm Đồng Province and Mekong Delta Marathon in Hậu Giang Province.

The 2020 Asian Junior Athletics Championships has been cancelled. The event was to take place on May 14-17 in Bangkok.

The Asian 20km Racewalking Championships, due to take place on March 15 in Nomi City, Japan, has been cancelled.