Coronavirus impact: All remaining I-League matches to be played in empty stadiums
All the remaining 28 matches of the I-League, including Sunday's marquee Kolkata derby between champions Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, will be played in empty stadiums owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the All India Football Federation said on Friday.
The decision was taken after the AIFF and I-League officials had a Skype meeting with club representatives following Thursday's Sports Ministry advisory asking national federations to follow the Health Ministry's guidelines and avoid large gatherings in sports events.
"Adhering to the advisories issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, AIFF has decided to complete the remaining matches of the 2019-20 edition of the Hero I-League behind closed doors," the AIFF said in a statement.
The remaining matches of I-League will be played in empty stadiums
"Besides team officials and players; match officials (referees), medical staff, TV Crew, accredited media, and required security staff — none would be allowed to be in the premises of the stadium on match day, and during official practice the preceding day," the statement said.
Also, the Delhi government today has put a ban on all sports gatherings, including the Indian Premier League 2020, in the national capital amid the coronavirus threat, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said.
Addressing a press conference, Sisodia said district magistrates have been asked to ensure that all directives pertaining to coronavirus are implemented.
"All sports gatherings will be banned, including the IPL, in wake of the coronavirus threat," he said.
Health Minister Satyendar Jain said home quarantine is the best solution in case one shows any symptoms pertaining to coronavirus.
The Karnataka government as well swung into action, announcing the lockdown of malls, cinema theatres, pubs and night clubs for a week, starting from Saturday, after the country's first coronavirus death was reported yesterday from Kalaburagi in Karnataka.
The COVID-19 outbreak, which has claimed close to 5,000 lives and infected more than 130,000 people globally, has forced the postponement of four Olympic qualifying badminton events so far — Lingshui China Masters (February 25 to March 1), Vietnam International Challenge (24-29 March 24-29), German Open (March 3 to 8) and Polish Open (March 26-29).
Earlier, the shooting World Cup and the Indian Open golf tournament were postponed in Delhi as well.
(Disclaimer: Additional background information has been added to this PTI copy for context)
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)