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13 Mar, 2020 15:07

'Ready to lend a hand': Russia willing to host more games at Euro 2020 as coronavirus pandemic threatens tournament

'Ready to lend a hand': Russia willing to host more games at Euro 2020 as coronavirus pandemic threatens tournament

Russia is ready to step in and host more matches at the UEFA European Championships this summer, as the tournament comes under increasing threat of postponement from the coronavirus pandemic.

UEFA is facing mounting pressure to push the tournament back, potentially to the summer of 2021, as the coronavirus outbreak continues to ravage Europe.

Euro 2020 is spread across 12 cities in 12 countries as a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the event, compounding the potential for further problems. 

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Italy, which is where the tournament is due to kick off on June 12, is the country worst-hit by the virus outside of China, suffering more than 15,000 cases and upwards of 1,000 deaths.

Other nations among the Euro 2020 hosts include France, Spain and Germany, which have been particularly badly affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, with more than 2,000 cases in each country.  

Russia is due to hold four games in St. Petersburg, including three group stage matches and one quarter-final, but has so far been less affected by the coronavirus, registering 45 cases as of Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko has said that Russia stands ready to hold more games at Euro 2020, should UEFA ask it to do so.

“In the dates which include Russia's participation in Euro 2020 we could definitely expand the program [host more matches]. It's up to UEFA to approach us with this offer.


“Russia is always ready to lend a hand and offer its services, but we have to understand that at the moment we are in a situation with certain limits, which is also connected with the spread of the coronavirus,” he added in a note of caution. 

The coronavirus pandemic has already led to a wave of suspensions of sporting leagues around the world, with UEFA announcing on Friday that next week’s planned Champions League and Europa League matches would definitely not go ahead.

The organization has called an emergency meeting next Tuesday to discuss the next steps for all its competitions, with an announcement expected on the status of Euro 2020.

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Russia has recent  experience of hosting a major football tournament, having successfully held the 2018 FIFA World Cup in 12 venues spread across 11 cities, albeit in very different circumstances to those at present.