UCI monitoring coronavirus outbreak as disease continues to hit sporting events

By PA Sport Staff
PA Media: Sport

The UCI is closely monitoring the coronavirus situation after a rider who began the now-cancelled UAE Tour arrived in Berlin to take part in the Track Cycling World Championships as the outbreak continued to impact the sporting world.

Cycling’s world governing body has said the UAE Tour was cancelled due to “suspected” cases of coronavirus before it emerged at least one of the two staff members involved may have tested negative for the disease.

All riders at the race, including Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and Adam Yates, who has been declared the winner, have been placed in lockdown at their hotels and are being tested.

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Michael Morkov is in solitary confinement (PA)
Michael Morkov is in solitary confinement (PA)

Danish cyclist Michael Morkov is being kept in solitary confinement at his team’s hotel in Berlin after arriving from the UAE. The 34-year-old arrived in Germany on Thursday, having left Abu Dhabi before the abrupt cancellation of the UAE Tour.

Statements on Thursday night from the Abu Dhabi Sports Council and organisers RCS Sport said the race had been cancelled due to two positives tests for coronavirus, but on Friday the UCI indicated the decision was made before the results were known.

It is now understood at least one of those tests came back negative, but authorities in the United Arab Emirates took the decision to act early to prevent a possible outbreak.

Events in the United Kingdom remain largely unaffected but there are precautions being put in place.

The Premier League is instructing clubs to follow the NHS guidelines and advised they ensure staff are self-isolating if they begin to show any symptoms, but there is no suggestion that any extra measures are required at this stage.

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce revealed at his press conference that players have been told not to shake hands with one another.

“There’s a ritual here that everybody shakes hands with everybody as soon as we see each other every morning – we’ve stopped that on the advice of the doctor,” he said.

“Thankfully, we’ve got a superb doctor here and he will keep us informed of what we have to do. We’re like everybody else, we’re glued to the TV for where it’s going to go next and let’s hope it doesn’t get any worse in this country.”

Premier League leaders Liverpool have not gone as far as the Magpies.

Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce has said the club have stopped their players from shaking hands (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce has said the club have stopped their players from shaking hands (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“So far we didn’t tell anyone not to shake hands but we have disinfectant stations here,” Reds boss Jurgen Klopp said. “It’s important we take it serious but not get crazy about it.”

Arsenal and Tottenham have both taken the precaution of asking all visitors to their respective training grounds to fill out a form in advance of arrival to limit access to those who may have recently been in affected areas.

Spurs forward Son Heung-min will be subject to a precautionary 14-day self-isolation period as he returns from Seoul over the weekend.

Football has been hit further afield as this weekend’s matches in the top two divisions in Switzerland have been postponed after the government banned all events involving more than 1,000 people until at least March 15.

Cristiano Ronaldo and his Juventus team-mates will take on Serie A rivals Inter Milan behind closed doors this weekend (Martin Rickett/PA)
Cristiano Ronaldo and his Juventus team-mates will take on Serie A rivals Inter Milan behind closed doors this weekend (Martin Rickett/PA)

The Swiss Football League said in a statement the games between Friday and Sunday in the Super League and Challenge League had been postponed until “an indefinite date”.

In Italy, five Serie A matches, including Sunday’s match between Juventus and Inter Milan, will be played behind closed doors.

Spanish side Valencia have cancelled all pre- and post-match press conferences and have closed off media access to their players after a journalist who covers the club was diagnosed with coronavirus.

On Monday, Six Nations chiefs are set to gather in Paris for talks over the spread of the disease, 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.

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