Belarusian Premier League continues play despite coronavirus threat

Every other sport around the world is seemingly postponed due to the coronavirus, but one league in Europe defiantly refuses to take the virus seriously. Despite the threat of spreading the coronavirus, the Belarusian Premier League continues playing games, according to the New York Times.

The league held matches all weekend with zero restrictions for fans. Players were warned to wash their hands and avoid close contact — and the stadium had to be disinfected twice a day — but the league otherwise operated as usual.

The move flies in the face of everything health officials have recommended regarding the virus. All over the world, people are quarantining and self isolating in an attempt to slow down the spread of coronavirus. Sports league have shut down as well, recognizing putting a bunch of athletes together in a confined space and then letting those athletes travel to different parts of the country is an extremely bad idea.

The governing body of soccer in Belarus, however, has justified the country’s decision by claiming there’s no state of emergency in the area, according to the Times.

“Is there a state of emergency declared in our country?” Vladimir Bazanov, the head of the A.B.F.F., said in an interview with the sports website Tribuna. “There is no critical condition, so they decided that we are starting the championship in a timely manner.”

It doesn’t help matters that the country’s president — Aleksandr Lukashenko — has called coronavirus a “psychosis.” Lukashenko believes the virus can be cured by tractors and field work.

Latest data shows that Belarus has 86 total cases of COVID-19, with zero deaths.

At least one of Belarus’ most prominent players has voiced his displeasure about the games still taking place. Aleksandr Hleb initially called the situation “unbelievable.” He later backtracked, saying he trusted the matches would stop if the coronavirus was considered a threat.

That hasn’t happened yet. For now, the next matches in the Belarusian Premier League are still slated to proceed as normal.

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