BERLIN (AP) — The Bundesliga will have to wait a bit longer for a chance to restart.
German chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that a decision on whether the country’s soccer league can resume amid the coronavirus pandemic has been pushed back to next Wednesday.
Merkel made the announcement after meeting with the country’s 16 state governors to discuss a possible easing of strict containment measures to combat the virus.
Soccer authorities had been hoping to receive the go-ahead to resume the league as early as May 9 after presenting a raft of hygiene measures it said would help minimize the risk of spreading the virus. That includes playing games without fans, continuous testing and monitoring of players.
Bundesliga clubs are committed to finishing the season by the end of June, but have not yet been given the go-ahead to resume full team training. Now it seems the earliest the league can resume is May 16 or 23, but it depends on how the number of coronavirus cases develops.
Merkel warned there is still a danger that COVID-19 infections could rise if containment measures are relaxed too soon.
“We have to keep looking at the overall situation. We have to do all we can to ensure there is no regression, but that we keep going forward step by step,” Merkel said.
A ban on all large gatherings in Germany through the end of August will remain. So even if next season begins on schedule, the first games will be played without fans present.
The German soccer federation earlier announced that an extraordinary general meeting will be held through video conferencing on May 25 to discuss the crisis.
The Bundesliga was suspended with nine rounds remaining on March 13.
As of Thursday, Germany had registered more than 160,000 cases of the coronavirus, with nearly 6,500 deaths attributed to COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. The true number of infections is likely to be higher because many have not been tested and studies suggest people can be infected showing symptoms of the illness.