BERN – FIFA president Gianni Infantino has warned against re-starting football too early amid the coronavirus pandemic, telling FIFA’s 211 member associations on Friday that such behaviour would be irresponsible.Soccer around the world has come to a standstill with domestic leagues on hold and major tournaments such as Euro 2020 and the Copa America postponed for one year. “Our first priority, our principle, the one we will use for our competitions and encourage everyone to follow is that health comes first,” Infantino said in a statement on Friday which FIFA said was specially aimed at its members. “I cannot stress this enough. No match, no competition, no league is worth risking a single human life. Everyone in the world should have this very clear in their mind.”Meanwhile, discussions are being held around the world over when and how to re-start the season while in some countries there are disagreements over whether players should face pay cuts. “It would be more than irresponsible to force competitions to resume if things are not 100 per cent safe,” Infantino said. “If we have to wait a little longer we must do so. It’s better to wait a little bit longer than to take any risks.”
Tokyo 2020 working towards new date, but virus clouds future
TOKYO – Tokyo Olympics organisers are focusing on their new Games start date in 2021, they stressed on Friday — even if the coronavirus outbreak complicates preparations for the remade extravaganza. Last month, the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government agreed to postpone the Games, due to start in July this year, to 2021 because of the impact of coronavirus, which has killed over 89,000 people worldwide. At his first remote news conference on Friday, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto emphasized that Games organisers were aiming towards the new start date of July 23, 2021, regardless of how long it takes to contain the coronavirus outbreak.“I don’t think anybody would be able to say it is possible to get it (coronavirus) under control by next July or not,” said Muto. “We certainly aren’t in a position to give you a clear answer on that question. “However, we have made the decision to postpone the Games by one year so all we can do is work hard to prepare for the Games in one year’s time.” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a state of emergency on Tuesday and, as of Friday, Japan has recorded over 6,000 cases of coronavirus and 112 deaths, according to NHK. Because of travel restrictions imposed in the wake of coronavirus, Muto also announced that IOC President Thomas Bach’s scheduled visit to Japan in May has been cancelled.