UEFA is asking governments across Europe to ensure this summer's Euro 2020 goes ahead despite the rampant spread of the coronavirus across the continent, a source told Rob Harris of the Associated Press.
European football's administrative body has been working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to devise ways to reduce the risks of infection across the 12 countries set to host matches in the 24-team tournament.
The WHO told UEFA that it doesn't expect the virus to be contained by the time the European Championship kicks off on June 12, but the soccer organization is determined for the tournament to be played with fans in attendance. UEFA will allow cities to stage games if they have the medical infrastructure to treat COVID-19 patients while still having the capability to put on events with tens of thousands of people, Harris explains.
Euro 2020 is set to be the first pan-European edition of the competition. UEFA is open to removing a city from the schedule if the coronavirus prevents it from fulfilling the requirements needed to hold matches.
Brussels has already been stripped of matches due to an unfinished stadium, with London subsequently being rewarded extra fixtures.
Current host venues at Euro 2020:
|Johan Cruyff Arena||Amsterdam||Netherlands|
|Krestovsky Stadium||Saint Petersburg||Russia|
There were reports that European football federations had asked UEFA to move Euro 2020 to the following year. However, UEFA refuted these accounts, telling the Associated Press that it "has had no requests to move or cancel the tournament."
Numerous elite sporting events have been postponed throughout Europe, with the continent's worst-hit nation, Italy, currently imposing travel restrictions on its entire 60-million population and even barring public events such as funerals and weddings until April 3. Football matches are unsurprisingly included in those measures.
Despite the worsening situation across the continent, UEFA insists it's taking the coronavirus threat "very seriously."
The body added in its statement: "We are closely monitoring the situation and are in contact with the World Health Organisation and national authorities regarding COVID-19 and its development."
Over 113,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 globally and 4,000 have died due to the infection, according to figures from CNN.