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Premier League, Cheltenham to continue as UK delays sports ban

UK announcement follows a spate of sporting cancellations in Ireland and across Europe.

UK sports to continue:
UK sports to continue: "Scientific advice is this has little effect on the spread," says Johnson.
Image: PA

SPORTS IN BRITAIN — including this weekend’s slate of soccer fixtures and Friday’s final day of the Cheltenham Festival — are set to continue uninterrupted for now.

The UK government is considering banning sporting events but will not do so yet.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the country is now moving into the next stage of its planning to combat the spread of coronavirus.

That could include cancelling large gatherings in the near future, although the main reason for doing that would be to ease the burden on public services.

Mr Johnson said at a press conference: “We are considering banning major public events like sporting fixtures.

“The scientific advice is this has little effect on the spread – but it does place a burden on other public services.”

Speaking alongside Johnson, Patrick Vallance, the Government’s chief scientific adviser, offered a further explanation of why stopping big events would not necessarily work.

He said: “On average, one person infects two or three others.

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“You therefore have a very low probability of infecting a large number of people in a stadium and a rather higher probability of infecting people very close to you.

“And that means that most of the transmission actually tends to take place with friends and colleagues and those in close environments – and not in the big environments.”

Today’s UK announcement follows a spate of sporting cancellations across Europe, with all GAA, soccer and rugby in Ireland postponed until 29 March at earliest.

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