Serie A matches and UAE Tour disrupted by coronavirus
Five Serie A matches will be played behind closed doors this weekend as the coronavirus continues to disrupt sporting events across the globe.
The decision was confirmed on Thursday and while no fixtures will be postponed, Saturday’s game between Udinese and Fiorentina will be played in front of an empty stadium.
A day later, matches between AC Milan-Genoa, Parma-SPAL, Sassuolo-Brescia and Juventus-Inter will all take place behind closed doors.
Leaders Juventus are only a point ahead of second-placed Lazio, while a further spot back are Inter, who are six points off top spot but with a game in hand. The fixture would have seen Antonio Conte return to his former club, although no fans will now be present.
In cycling, four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome and star sprinter Mark Cavendish are among riders who will be tested for the virus after the UAE Tour was cancelled amid health fears on Thursday.
The final two stages of the race were due to take place on Friday and Saturday but the race was abandoned after two members of staff on the race were taken ill.
A statement from the Abu Dhabi Sports Council said: “The Abu Dhabi Sports Council has cancelled the remaining rounds of the 2020 UAE Tour after two Italian participants had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, known as Covid-19.
“The decision has been taken to ensure protection of all the race’s participants as safety comes at the top of all priorities.”
All riders and staff were confined to their rooms at the Crowne Royal Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island.
On Monday, Six Nations chiefs are set to gather in Paris for talks over the spread of the coronavirus, with Ireland’s match against Italy in Dublin on March 7 already postponed.
Representatives from the home unions plus France and Italy will be present for the pre-scheduled World Rugby meeting that will now also include discussions over what additional action should be taken in response to the outbreak.
England’s trip to Rome on March 14 is now in grave doubt due to the virus’ stranglehold in northern Italy, which has become a major centre of infection with 11 towns in lockdown.