All sport in Italy is to be suspended for the next month as the Italian authorities steps up measures to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
The Italian national Olympic committee confirmed the news on Monday, which includes all matches in Serie A, Italy’s highest football division, but does not cover Italian clubs or national teams competing in international competitions such as the Champions League.
The committee, which oversees all sporting events in the country, said in a statement that the suspension will last until April 3 and that it would request a government decree to impose its decision.
Italy now has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases, behind China and South Korea, and action has been taken with all sport being suspended until April 3.
In Italy, about 16 million people have been put under a widespread lockdown in the northern part of the country.
Italy’s top soccer division had resumed on Sunday with five games played in empty stadiums. Twelve rounds remain, with eight-time defending champion Juventus holding a one-point lead over Lazio.
Serie A has not been canceled since World War II.
CONI said its decision does not include international competition “for clubs or national teams,” since it does not govern those. Juventus, Napoli and Atalanta are each competing in the Champions League, while Inter Milan and Roma are still in the Europa League.
Earlier, the Italian swimming federation said it was withdrawing its teams from international events and canceled an Olympic qualifying meet scheduled for next week in Riccione.
The Tokyo Games are scheduled to begin in 4 months. More than 300 Italian athletes qualified for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
In France, police said that the Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund at Parc des Princes will be played without fans.
It is the second of the four matches in the competition this week to be played in an empty stadium. Spanish authorities previously recommended restrictions on games involving teams from areas in Italy with high numbers of virus cases and said the Valencia-Atalanta match on Tuesday will take place without fans in attendance.
‘Health protection is the top priority for everyone,’ read a statement from the committee.
The government had already ordered that all sporting events, including matches in the top-flight soccer league Serie A, to be played behind closed doors to avoid crowds of people that could boost the contagion.
The country has been rocked by the spread of the disease and reported its biggest daily increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases since its outbreak began with a total of 7,375, including 366 deaths.
There is no guarantee that the coronavirus will be under control by April 3, so there is a very real possibility that Serie A fixtures will be further delayed putting into doubt the whole season and this summer’s Euro 2020 and Copa America.