The coronavirus is now in Europe and it has forced the Italian government to make a tough decision. On Wednesday, it was announced that multiple Serie A matches would be played behind closed doors in the wake of the coronavirus. Juventus/Inter will be played in an arena with no fans, as will along with Udinese/Fiorentina, Milan/Genoa, and Sassuolo/Brescia.
In addition, upcoming matches between Lazio and Bologna, Napoli and Torino, Lecce and Atalanta and Cagliari and Roma will also be played without fans around. Italy is the first country in Europe that is fighting a major coronavirus outbreak, according to CBS News.
The possibility of having some soccer matches played with zero fans in attendance at stadiums -- as northern Italy is now the focal point of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe -- was brought up early in the week, .
Serie A president Paolo Dal Pinto sent a letter to the Italian government on Monday petitioning for games not to be postponed in areas that have been affected by the virus. Instead, he wants those games to be played behind closed doors, so that there aren't a large amount of makeup games on the league's schedule, according to the Associated Press.
"Playing all sports behind closed doors for the next week could be possible, because then fans can more easily stay at home," Italian federations for sports physicians president Maurizio Casasco told the Associated Press. "But the clubs have to be in agreement. There's more than just soccer in Italy. It's an issue that regards all sports."
At the time, Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Malago said playing games with no fans would be "problematic," according to the AP.
All Serie A matches have to be made up by May 24, which is when the European Championship begins. Four Serie A games were postponed on Sunday due to the virus.
Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that can cause illnesses as minor as a cold, or as serious as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), according to the World Health Organization. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the virus can cause symptoms including fever, cough and shortness of breath. But while some patients only show mild symptoms and recover, others have developed life-threatening complications, such as pneumonia, according to CBS News.
Several Olympic qualifying events in China were recently postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. The country has over 77,000 cases of coronavirus, according to CBS News.
Last month, the World Athletics governing body announced that the World Athletics Indoor Championships were being moved to 2021. The Indoor Championships were originally scheduled to take place in Nanjing, China in mid-March. In addition, the first FIS Alpine Ski World Cup races were canceled due to the coronavirus. The races were originally scheduled for Feb. 15 and 16. The men's downhill and super-G races were scheduled to take place during the two-day period.