Rio mayor suspends football amid COVID-19 surge

Medical workers take care of a patient at the intensive care unit (ICU) of the Nossa Senhora da Conceicao hospital, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Porto Alegre, Brazil

The mayor of Brazilian city Rio de Janeiro has suspended football for 10 days in a bid to combat rising COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Monday’s announcement forms part of a 10-day ban on non-essential activities in Brazil’s second-largest city, which is grappling with its most severe COVID-19 surge since the pandemic began. The restrictions will take effect on March 26 and end on April 4.

“There will be no football in Rio and in [neighboring city] Niteroi,” mayor Eduardo Paes told a news a conference.

Local football federation, FERJ, did not immediately comment on the decision and it was unclear whether Rio’s state championship would be halted.

Vasco da Gama, one of Rio’s biggest clubs, issued a statement late Monday in which it supported the move. But some other Rio-based clubs have previously opposed efforts to halt football and could seek to continue playing in other cities, local media reported.

Rio’s new measures come less than two weeks after Sao Paulo’s state government suspended football until March 30 in an effort to limit the spread of the virus.

Brazil has had 12 million confirmed COVID-19 cases, more than 295,000 of which have been fatal. 

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