For all of the good vibes that came out of Juventus playing well against Inter Milan on Sunday night, there was the overlying thought hanging over the match about what was next for both the club and Serie A as a whole. The coronavirus outbreak has forced the Derby d’Italia to be both postponed/rescheduled and then played behind closed doors, with uncertainty about what was next and when Juventus would actually play again.
Twenty-four hours later, when Juve’s taking the field against a league opponent is as up in the air now as ever.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that all sporting events in Italy have been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country. This, in large part, has to do with the fact that the restrictions in Italy have been extended throughout the entire country, not just Northern Italy being considered a hot zone as was previously the case. Now, unfortunately, the entire country is considered a coronavirus hot zone, and the subsequent result of that has been Serie A being shut down until (at least) April 3, the end of the Italian government’s previous decree about teams playing games behind closed doors.
Essentially, all of Italy is now on lockdown.
Here is what Conte had to say about the current state of sports in Italy as the coronavirus outbreak continues to get worse:
There is no more time, the numbers tell us there is a significant increase in the contagion, in intensive care and the deaths. Our habits have to change, we must sacrifice something for the good of all of Italy. This is why we will adopt even more stringent measures.
I will sign the new decree, which can be summed up with the phrase ‘I am staying at home.’ There are no more red zones, there is just an Italy that is protected.
We must avoid travel unless for proven work reasons, health reasons or other necessities. We ban large public gatherings.
We also have more stringent measures in mind for sporting events. Serie A and all sporting tournaments in general are suspended. All the fans must accept that.
It was announced Monday that there was another 97 deaths from coronavirus in Italy over the previous 24 hours. That pushed the death toll to 463 since the outbreak in Italy started. Italy has been the second-worst country affected by the coronavirus in all of the world.
While the April 3 date of when the government’s decree would end, how this impacts Juventus’ current ability to play its second leg of the Champions League Round of 16 tie against Lyon next Tuesday is still very much unknown. Juventus, who were set to play at Bologna on Friday night, will now wait to see whether Lyon’s players and staff will even be allowed to enter the country with the second leg set to be played (at least for now) in Turin.
Check back here for more on this developing story.