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Coronavirus: Premier League set to play behind closed doors; Juventus defender Rugani tests positive; Inter Milan enter quarantine; NBA suspends season

COVIDominoes-19 starting to fall

Chelsea FC v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

According to a report this morning from the Times, the Premier League are just hours away from confirming the decision to play (the rest of the season?) behind closed doors.

This would be in line with expectations from earlier this week, as well with developments elsewhere in Europe and around the world when it comes to public gatherings or large-scale (1000+ attendees) events. By and large, such events are being canceled (Coachella, SxSW, some sporting events) or held without a live audience (many football games, television tapings, etc.).

While the worldwide TV audience wouldn’t see much change other than the weirdness of empty stands, for UK broadcasts, a Premier League streaming service is apparently being set up that will only be available to season-ticket holders and those with tickets to individual matches already. That sounds like a giant mess when the easy thing would be to just stream or broadcast all games (including those at 3pm — it’s not like they have a stadium experience to protect now!), but that apparently won’t be happening.

Meanwhile, Juventus defender Daniele Rugani has become the first high-profile footballer to test positive for COVID-19. It’s unclear what wide-ranging repercussions this may have at the moment — i.e. will the Champions League have to be postponed or canceled while all participants quarantine themselves? Inter Milan have already put themselves into quarantine as a result of last weekend’s derby match against Juve, for example.

The situation is escalating across the pond, too, where a Utah Jazz played tested positive ahead of Wednesday night’s game against Oklahoma City Thunder. The NBA have swiftly acted to suspend the season indefinitely. They could be the first big domino to fall in the US sports scene, with the NHL, MLS, and MLB likely to follow soon. The NCAA have already confirmed that March Madness will be played in empty stadiums.

In somewhat more amusing news, Liverpool crashed out of the Champions League last night after yet another Diego Simeone-engineered masterclass from Atlético Madrid. Even Álvaro Morata, technically still just a Chelsea loanee, scored in the 3-2 win at Anfield (4-2 on aggregate)!


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