The Latest: Soccer fans in Belarus to stop attending games

The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

Soccer fans from two clubs in Belarus say they will stop going to games because of the coronavirus.

A leading fan group at Neman Grodno says its members will stop attending games and they have urged supporters for other teams to do the same.

The fans have called on the national soccer federation to «draw on some courage and stop the Belarusian championship, as the rest of the world has done.»

Fans of Shakhter Soligorsk have also said they will stop going to games «until the epidemiological situation allows us to return to the stands.» But they stopped short of calling for the season to be suspended.

Belarus is the only nation in Europe still hosting professional soccer games with fans in the stadium.

International players’ union FIFPro says players in Belarus have reached out with concerns about playing during the coronavirus pandemic.

English soccer authorities say there are «no quick answers» to the question of when play can resume following the coronavirus outbreak.

The Premier League, English Football League and Football Association say in a joint statement there will be play «only when it is safe to do so.»

They say clubs and supporters have a role to play in the meantime «in supporting the government’s guidance and ensuring community strength and solidarity.»

The most recent update from soccer authorities said there will be no play until April 30 at the earliest.

A hockey team and a soccer club in Russia face being removed from their leagues after government financial support was diverted to fight the coronavirus.

The sports ministry in the far eastern region of Primorsky Krai says it sees no point in funding player contracts for another season if it’s not clear when competitions will resume. It wants the Admiral Vladivostok hockey club to drop out of the Kontinental Hockey League and the Luch Vladivostok soccer team to drop down two divisions into the amateur leagues.

The ministry says regional funding earmarked for professional sports will instead go into an anti-coronavirus fund.

Many Russian sports team rely heavily on regional governments and state-owned companies for much of their funding. Primorsky Krai is the first region to impose such drastic cuts.

All major sporting events in Russia are currently suspended.

The Olympic flame will be on display until the end of April in Japan’s northeastern prefecture of Fukushima.

Tokyo Olympic and prefecture officials held an official «handover ceremony»on Wednesday at the J-Village National Training Center in Fukushima.

The public will have limited access to view the flame, and organizers hope to limit the crowd size because of restrictions in place for the coronavirus.

The flame arrived in Japan from Greece on March 20 and the torch relay was to have started last week from Fukushima. The flame has remained in the prefecture with Wednesday’s event merely ceremonial.

The Fukushima prefecture is the region of Japan that was devastated in 2011 by an earthquake, tsunami, and the subsequent meltdown of three nuclear reactors.

Olympic officials have postponed the Tokyo Games until next year with the opening now set for July 23, 2021.

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