South Korea's K League postpones start of season due to coronavirus

Reuters

Posted at Feb 24 2020 05:00 PM

People wearing masks to prevent the coronavirus walk on the bridge in downtown Seoul, South Korea, February 24, 2020. Heo Ran, Reuters.

South Korea's professional soccer league has postponed the start of the new season due to the surge in coronavirus cases in the country, Yonhap news agency reported on Monday.

The K League made the decision to postpone all matches at an emergency board meeting in Seoul. The 2020 season had been due to kick-off on Saturday.

The league had also asked its four teams in the AFC Champions League, the continent's elite club competition, to hold matches behind closed doors, Yonhap reported.

South Korea reported 161 new cases of the flu-like virus on Monday, bringing the total number of infected patients in the country to 763. The Korea Centres for Disease Control and Prevention said seven South Koreans had died.

The coronavirus outbreak, which has infected nearly 77,000 people and killed more than 2,500 in China, has also had a major impact on Asia's sporting calendar, with a host of events canceled or postponed throughout the region.

Yonhap also said on Monday that Busan, some 450 kilometres southeast of Seoul, was "actively considering" postponing next month's table tennis world championships due to the coronavirus.

On Friday, the governing body for table tennis, the ITTF, postponed the first stage draw for the March 22-29 tournament.

The ITTF and South Korea's table tennis federation had said they would take advice from the World Health Organization and the government to put safety measures in place for the event. 

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford )

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