Argentina Suspends Sports Events Over Coronavirus Fears

AFP

Buenos Aires: Argentina has suspended a number of upcoming sports events as a precautionary measure to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, the sport secretariat said on Wednesday.

The secretariat initially said all March sports events had been suspended, but clarified that the measure only targeted events "due to take place in the next few days in which sports people coming from affected countries were due to take part."

It said the Fencing World Cup, South American Swimming Championships, Athletics Grand Prix and an Olympic boxing qualification tournament had been postponed.

It also called on "athletes, coaches and officials that have returned to Argentina from those countries affected by the new coronavirus covid-19 ... to stay at home for 14 days and not to go to public places such as sports, recreation, work or social areas, even if they don't display symptoms."

The decree does not affect local Argentine league football matches or those played in the continental Copa Libertadores, Tourism and Sport Minister Matias Lammens told La Red radio station.

Earlier, the sport secretariat had said the suspension covered "tournaments, competitions preparatory tours and/or sporting events to be held in the Argentine Republic" in March.

Argentina is one of a number of Latin American countries to have ordered the isolation of travelers from China, Italy, Spain and France amongst other countries.

The new measure could affect Argentina's football team, which is due to play two qualifying matches at the end of March for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

A number of top Argentina stars play their club football in Italy, Spain and France, such as Barcelona's Lionel Messi and forwards Paulo Dybala of Juventus and Inter Milan's Lautaro Martinez.

The country's football team is due to host Ecuador on March 26.

Chile, Colombia and Peru, who are also due to host World Cup qualifiers later this month, have likewise announced isolation measures for people arriving from the countries worst affected by coronavirus.

Complying with these measures would prevent many star players from those countries from taking part in the World Cup qualifiers.

Separately, organizers of the Argentine Moto GP due to take place in April announced it had been postponed until November.

Argentina has recorded 19 cases of the new coronavirus and is one of only two countries in Latin American to have had a patient die of the virus.

Latin America has been far less affected by the virus than other parts of the world but its recorded cases are now over 140 and rising rapidly.