Sports community reacts to Brussels terror attacks
Thirty-four people were killed and at least 250 wounded in attacks on Zaventem Airport and Maelbeek Metro station on Tuesday morning in Brussels.
Terror group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has since claimed responsibility for the attacks, with tensions at an alarmingly high level in Europe.
A number of sports stars were caught up in the tragedy.
Norwich City striker Dieumerci Mbokani was at the airport at the time of the attack and has been described as unharmed but shaken.
Belgian professional basketballer Sebastien Bellin was more directly involved, with a graphic image of the Gent Hawks star released on social media.
The Belgian football side were gearing up for an international friendly against Portugal next week in Brussels, and canceled team training for two days in a row on Tuesday and Wednesday, before ultimately canceling the friendly altogether after efforts to move it to Portugal failed. Belgium's last friendly against Spain in November was also canceled in the wake of the Paris attacks.
#tousensemble, our thoughts are with the victims. Football is not important today. Training cancelled.— BelgianRedDevils (@BelRedDevils) March 22, 2016
Our game against Portugal, scheduled Tuesday night at the King Baudouin Stadium, will not take place. More info: https://t.co/PCn8WyBESr— BelgianRedDevils (@BelRedDevils) 23 March 2016
Understandably the focus has now shifted to the viability of Euro 2016, which is due to kick off in France this June.
Following the terror attacks in Paris last year there has been growing concern over security at the event – and again its practicality has been questioned.
UEFA executive committee vice-president Giancarlo Abete has stated that the competition will go ahead as scheduled but has not ruled out the possibility of games being played behind closed doors.
“Euro 2016 is the kind of event we can’t delay or postpone,” he said.
“We can’t exclude the possibility of playing behind closed doors as we cannot exclude terrorism.
“If we talked about potentially cancellable games such as a friendly or a competitive match that could be moved to another date, obviously this would not be the case.”
Welsh national team boss Chris Coleman has stressed that it is critical that the tournament proceeds as planned this summer.
"It's what everybody wants. It’s what the people want and we should make sure that happens,” he said.
"I think these people would have us stay in our houses, locked up 24 hours a day if we let them have their way. That shouldn't happen.”
A host of sports organizations and athletes have taken to Twitter to show their dismay at what has happened, with a selection shown below.
1) Horrified and revolted. Innocent people paying the price again. My thoughts are with the families of the victims. #Brussels— Vincent Kompany (@VincentKompany) March 22, 2016
2) I wish for Brussels to act with dignity. We are all hurting, yet we must reject hate and its preachers. As hard as it may be. #Brussels— Vincent Kompany (@VincentKompany) March 22, 2016
Pray for Belgium Pray for the world all my toughts are with family and friends of the victims.— Christian Benteke (@chrisbenteke) March 22, 2016
My thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by the horrific attacks on our city. #PrayForBrussels 🇧🇪— Divock Origi #27 (@DivockOrigi) March 22, 2016
Our thoughts and sympathies are with our friends at @Belgianfootball and the people of Belgium following today's attacks in Brussels.— The FA (@FA) March 22, 2016
Can't believe I'm reading these things again...— Jan Vertonghen (@JanVertonghen) March 22, 2016