Rome (AFP) – Italy’s Olympic Committee (CONI) on Monday recommended that all sporting events in Italy be suspended until April 3 to help contain the growing coronavirus crisis.

If the recommendation is implemented it would result in a suspension of Serie A football, currently being played behind closed doors.

It follows a meeting between CONI chief Giovanni Malago, the body’s Secretary General Carlo Mornati and members of Italy’s sporting federations at the committee’s headquarters in Rome.

Saying that “health protection is the absolute priority of all”, CONI asked in a statement that “all sports activities at all levels be suspended until April 3, 2020”. 

Malago will now inform Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Minister of Sport Vincenzo Spadafora of his position in relation to the on-going crisis.

For a suspension of all sport CONI asked “the government to issue a special decree which can override the current one” which states that sporting events can still be played, but behind closed doors.

CONI added in a statement that “international competitions, both for clubs and national teams, do not fall within the jurisdiction of the Italian National Olympic Committee and therefore cannot be regulated by today’s decisions”.

Juventus are due to play their Champion League last 16, second leg tie against Lyon in Turin next week.

Italy’s government on Sunday imposed sweeping measures to restrict travel for millions of Italians living in the north, the centre of country’s virus outbreak, which has infected thousands and resulted in 463 deaths.

On Sunday sports minister Spadafora  called for the suspension of Serie A while Italian Footballers’ Association president Damiano Tommasi tweeted that “stopping football is the most useful thing for our country right now”.

Sassuolo are due to play Brescia in Serie A later Monday, a match would could be the last in the Italian league before April.