An English Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal has been postponed “as a precautionary measure” due to the coronavirus outbreak.
- The fixture is the first top-flight football match in England to be postponed because of coronavirus
- Arsenal players were in contact with the owner of Greek club Olympiacos, who has contracted COVID-19
- Some Arsenal players have gone into two weeks of self-isolation in a precautionary move
The fixture, which was to be played at Manchester City’s home ground tomorrow morning AEDT, is the first top-flight football match in England to be postponed because of concerns over the virus.
The decision to postpone the match was made after the owner of Greek club Olympiacos, Evangelos Marinakis, announced he had contracted COVID-19 less than two weeks after he met Arsenal players following a Europa League fixture between the teams in north London.
Members of Arsenal’s playing squad have gone into two weeks of self-isolation in a precautionary move.
“The medical advice we have received puts the risk of them developing COVID-19 at extremely low,” Arsenal said in a statement.
“However, we are strictly following the government guidelines which recommend that anyone coming into close contact with someone with the virus should self-isolate at home for 14 days from the last time they had contact.
“As a result, the players are unavailable for tonight’s match against Manchester City and the Premier League has decided the game should be postponed.
“The players will remain at their homes until the 14-day period expires. Four Arsenal staff, who were sitting close to Mr Marinakis during the match, will also remain at home until the 14 days are complete.”
The Premier League said the postponement was linked directly to Mr Marinakis’s infection and there were currently no plans to postpone other matches.
“Following medical advice, Arsenal FC and Manchester City FC consider it is necessary to postpone their fixture due to be played this evening to give time to fully assess the situation,” the Premier League said in a statement.
“The Premier League has therefore agreed that tonight’s game will be rearranged.”
Concerns about coronavirus have led to the postponement of other sports events around the world.
All sport in Italy has been suspended until at least April 3 because of the coronavirus outbreak, including matches in the country’s top-flight Serie A football division, Six Nations rugby union fixtures, and cycling races.
Next month’s Chinese Formula One Grand Prix has been postponed, while the Bahrain leg on March 23 will go ahead but spectators will not be able to attend.
But the International Olympic Committee has maintained that the Tokyo Games will go ahead as scheduled in July.
The final two stages of cycling’s UAE Tour, featuring some of the world’s leading riders, were cancelled last month after two Italian participants tested positive for coronavirus.
The AFL announced last week that its premiership match in Shanghai between St Kilda and Port Adelaide would be moved to Melbourne in early June, while the NRL will consider playing fixtures in empty stadiums because of coronavirus fears.