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No fans for S.Korea AFC Champions League games because of virus

Seoul (AFP) – Two AFC Champions League matches in South Korea next week will take place behind closed doors because of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, the clubs announced Tuesday.

No fans will be allowed when FC Seoul play Thailand’s Chiangrai United next Tuesday or the following day as Ulsan face Australia’s Perth Glory in Asia’s Premier club competition, the clubs said in separate statements.

South Korea has reported nearly 900 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infections, with nine deaths.

The two teams said the decision was made “at the request of the Korea Professional Football League” to curb the spread of the infections. 

Two other South Korean teams involved in the competition, Jeonbuk and Suwon Bluewings, do not have their next home games until April.

The announcements come 24 hours after South Korea’s K-league postponed the start of the new football season following a spike in COVID-19 cases over the weekend.

“The K-league has decided to temporarily postpone the start of the 2020 K-league season until the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak eases,” the football body said after an emergency board meeting.

“This is a measure to protect the health and safety of the citizens and our players,” it added.

Matches featuring Daegu FC, based in the city that is the epicentre of the South Korean outbreak, and nearby Pohang Steelers, had already been delayed

Earlier on Tuesday table tennis’s world team championships, due to take place next month in the southern city of Busan, were postponed.

The International Table Tennis Federation said the event, originally planned for March 22-29, had been provisionally rescheduled for June 21-28 following an emergency meeting with local organisers.

Volleyball, basketball and handball have taken similar measures.

The coronavirus has had a serious impact on sports events worldwide, with football matches in Italy, China and Japan postponed as well as the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix, the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens and elite women’s LPGA golf tournaments in Thailand, Singapore and China.

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