Spain’s secretary for sport, Irene Lozano and La Liga President, Javier Tebas have categorically ruled out fans returning to matches before the end of this season to minimise the risk of the novel Coronavirus spreading.
Tebas said last month that fans should be allowed back once it is safe to do so, while the league drew up a draft protocol in the event that the government’s department for sport approved their return.
On her part, Lozano, who has repeatedly stated that the campaign should finish without supporters as those were the conditions for matches returning after the March hiatus, drew a line under the matter in a breakfast meeting with reporters on Thursday.
“The safest thing to do is to complete the season without spectators.
“Football moves masses of people, it’s not like the theatre,”she said.
“A match behind-closed-doors is attended by only 250 people, but a stadium only at one-third of its capacity could mean 30,000 people. That’s why it’s different to other activities,” she said.
None of Europe’s top five leagues have been able to hold matches with spectators since football returned, although championships in countries like Serbia, Bulgaria and Denmark have allowed fans back into matches.
Tebas said that the league was no longer planning for fans to return, adding that the main obstacle was the prospect of people congregating before and after games, as it happened at a recent derby between Sporting Gijon and Real Oviedo.
“Right now La Liga is not prioritising the return of supporters to stadiums.
“The big problem is the crowds inside and outside the stadium. We had problems with the Asturian derby as there were more than 2,000 people outside.
“We can’t afford to kid ourselves because if we aren’t careful, there could be a second wave,”he said.
Edited By: Remi Koleoso (NAN)
Nadal to skip United States Open due to COVID-19 concerns, as organisers announce entries
World number two Rafa Nadal confirmed on Tuesday that he would not defend his United States Open crown this year at Flushing Meadows.
His announcement came as organisers released the singles entry list for the Grand Slam.
“After many thoughts I have decided not to play (at) this year’s United States Open,” Nadal said on Twitter.
”The situation is very complicated worldwide, and the COVID-19 cases are increasing. It looks like we still don’t have control of it.
“We know that the reduced tennis calendar is barbaric this year after four months stopped with no play.
”I understand and thank (everyone) for the efforts they are putting in to make it happen. We have just seen the announcement of Madrid not being played this year.
“This is a decision I never wanted to take but I have decided to follow my heart this time and for the time being I rather not travel.”
The United States has the highest tally in the world with more than 4.7 million confirmed novel coronavirus cases and nearly 156,000 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.
World number one Novak Djokovic, a three-times champion in New York, headlines the men’s list along with last year’s runner-up Daniil Medvedev.
There are other top 10 players, including Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.
Swiss Roger Federer, a five-times United States Open champion, will also be absent after the 38-year-old was forced to undergo knee surgery in June which prematurely ended his 2020 season.
Nine of the top 10 women’s players, including 23-times Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and holder Bianca Andreescu, are on the entry list along with 2018 champion Naomi Osaka.
As many as 13 Grand Slam champions are in the women’s draw.
These include Romania’s Simona Halep, the reigning Wimbledon champion and 2018 French Open winner, and this year’s Australian Open champion American Sofia Kenin.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) said eight additional wildcard entries would be selected in both the men’s and women’s fields.
Organisers said the seedings would be announced closer to the start of the tournament which is scheduled for Aug. 31.
A number of players are also set to take part in the Aug. 20 to Aug. 28 Western & Southern Open in New York, which serves as a warm-up event for the United States Open.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
UK immigration to EU bloc nations up 30% since Brexit, naturalisations jump – Research
The number of UK nationals, who have acquired citizenship in European Union (EU) nations has jumped by 30 per cent since the Brexit referendum in 2016, a research has found.
The yearly average of UK citizens moving to any of the other 27 EU nations from 2008-2015 was nearly 57,000, while that same figure from 2016-2018 showed an average of over 73,000 annual migrations, the research by the Berlin Social Science Center, published on Monday, claimed.
This data does not account for the UK citizens who had been residing in EU nations but decided to register after the referendum, The Guardian reported.
That number grew by some 500 percent according to figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Eurostat.
Spain was the most popular destination for UK expatriates, with over 21,000 registrations in the two years following the Brexit vote, compared to an average annual number of 2,300 prior, the paper found.
France and Germany also saw a big jump in the number of UK nationals putting themselves on the path to citizenship.
About half of the 120,000 UK nationals in Germany are expected to have dual citizenship by the end of the year.
The authors of the study were unambiguous about the impact that Brexit had on decisions to migrate.
Because the Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels look likely to restrict employment and residency rights UK citizens had enjoyed, cosmopolitan and mobile Britons prefer to maintain access to a larger pool of employment opportunities and services.
The contentious 2016 Brexit referendum was followed by years of political crisis and a polarised public sphere in the UK.
After multiple delays, the UK finally exited the bloc in January 2020.
A transition period will run to the end of this year, during which time the two sides must reach deals in a host of fields.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Murray says players need assurance on quarantine issues before United States Open
Former world number one Andy Murray made this disclosure in an interview granted in London.
The competition is due to be played from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13.
The Western & Southern Open, which was relocated from Cincinnati this year because of COVID-19, will also be held in New York from Aug. 20 to 28.
It will serve as a tune-up for the hard court Grand Slam.
The two major clay court events in the lead up to Roland Garros are in Madrid (Sept. 13 to Sept. 20) and Rome (Sept. 20 to Sept. 27).
While Spain does not require mandatory quarantine, Italy will need travelers to quarantine for 14 days if coming from the United States
The USTA has said the organisers are working with relevant authorities to resolve issues.
“My understanding is that it would be sorted before we go to the United States But things can change in the next 10 to 12 days,” Murray said.
“Hopefully before we leave, the players will have the assurances that, when they come back from the United States, they won’t have to quarantine for two weeks.
“If that is the case, and if you do well in the United States Open, you can’t just arrive on the Sunday before the French Open starts on the Monday. That’s not going to work.”
The United States has over 4.68 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 with more than 155,000 deaths.
Murray, a three-times Grand Slam winner, has not played competitively since November due to hip problems.
But he took part in some exhibition events recently with the professional circuit shut.
The 33-year-old said he was willing to take the travel “risk” as he missed playing in big events.
“(With) the situation I’ve been in the last few years, I’ve not had opportunity to play in many Slams. I don’t know how many I’ll have left,” Murray said.
“So, while I’m feeling relatively decent … obviously there is a risk there. But I want to try and play in them and enjoy the biggest events again.”
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
Spain reports post-lockdown record number of coronavirus cases
Spain‘s Ministry of Health reported on Friday 1,525 new coronavirus cases, the biggest spike since the lockdown was lifted in June.
It was the first day since the end of the State of Alarm, which ended on June 21, when the total number of cases surpassed 1,500. It was also the third day in a row that Spain diagnosed over 1,000 infections, resembling figures from the beginning of the lockdown.
The cases reported on Friday were concentrated in four regions — Aragon (511), Madrid (372), the Basque country (158) and Andalusia (107). Catalonia registered 64 infections in the last 24 hours.
The ministry said that another ten people had died in the last seven days.
As of Friday, the number of coronavirus cases totaled 288,522 since the beginning of the pandemic.
At a summit with regional leaders on Friday, Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called the health crisis “an economic and social emergency.”
Sanchez insisted that Spain must focus on economic recovery after it registered an “unprecedented” collapse in its second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP). According to the National Statistics Institute, GDP sank by 18.5 percent quarter-on-quarter in the second quarter of 2020.
“Very tough months await us, but we are going to get out of this,” Sanchez said.