One of the world’s biggest sports tournaments, the European soccer championship, has been shifted from 2020 to 2021 due to fears over the coronavirus pandemic.
The event pits the national teams of Euro countries against each other and is held every four years, in between World Cups. Organizing body UEFA made the decision following a video meeting of its 55 member states, said multiple soccer associations, which posted on social media that the tournament would now run from June 11 to July 11 next year. UEFA has yet to ratify the news but is expected to sign off on the postponement later today, according to various reports.
The tournament had been scheduled to take place June 12 – July 12 this summer in various cities across Europe, with the final at London’s Wembley stadium. The opening fixture was due to be in Rome, which is currently in lockdown as Italian authorities are trying to contain the particularly bad outbreak in the country. This the first time since the event was founded in 1960 that it has not run in its scheduled year.
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Aside from the uncertainty around how and when Covid-19 will be contained, further problems were presented by the suspension of various national footballing leagues around the world. No firm decisions have been made yet but one option is for those leagues to conclude over the summer, when they would traditionally break, and the moving of the Euros allows that to be a possibility.
Alongside being a blow for soccer fans, the move leaves a hole in the calendar for broadcasters this summer. The Euros are a huge draw for global audiences, attracting some two billion TV viewers in 2016, including 60 million who watched Portugal triumph over France in the final.
At present, the Olympics are still scheduled to take place July 24 – August 9 in Tokyo, and Japanese organizers are insisting that they are intending to push on.
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