(Reuters) - Professional football in Colombia could begin behind closed doors in August or September if other countries have success in restarting their own leagues, the country's Sports Minister said on Thursday.
Ernesto Lucena, who 24 hours before acknowledged the return of games played in front of fans was unlikely this year, said officials were eager to get matches going again once health and safety guarantees are met amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"The big question is when will the league start again and I don't want to be irresponsible but I'd say we can restart in August or September," Lucena told a Congressional commission in Bogota.
"We hope to watch the examples of the other leagues to see how they act and we can follow their lead," he said in quotes reported on RCN Radio.
One option being considered is playing the remaining league games in just one or two cities.
His comments came a week after Colombian president Ivan Duque said even a return to games without spectators was not viable due to the large amount of testing that would be needed to protect the hundreds of support staff at clubs and stadiums.
The South American nation is holding a nationwide quarantine until May 11 and has suspended all public events, including the main soccer leagues for both men and women.
Colombia has confirmed 6,211 cases of COVID-19, with 278 deaths.
(Writing by Andrew Downie in London; Editing by Christian Radnedge)