The Italian Cup semi-final clash between Juventus and AC Milan has been postponed as fears mount over the coronavirus epidemic in northern Italy, local authorities in Turin announced on Tuesday.
The match was due to take place on Wednesday night at Juve’s Allianz Stadium with fans from most of Italy able to attend but Claudio Palomba, the prefect of the Turin province, said that the government’s restrictions on who could attend sporting events weren’t enough to guarantee safety.
The decision, said Palomba, was made on the basis of “assessments made by the Piedmont region’s crisis unit” and regional health councillor Luigi Icardi, who insisted on “avoiding large public gatherings”.
No new date has yet been fixed for the second leg of the last four tie, which is level at 1-1 following the first match at the San Siro last month.
News agency Ansa reports that the Milan players were told of the news while in their hotel in Turin ahead of the match.
On Tuesday, the number of deaths in Italy caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus jumped to 79 with more than 2,500 people infected – the most of any country in Europe.
Fifty-five of those deaths have been recorded in the northern Lombardy region, with Emilia-Romagna reporting 18 deaths and Veneto also hard hit.
The match had been scheduled to take place behind closed doors, but then a government decree enabled fans who did not live in those three regions and two other provinces in Liguria and Le Marche to attend the match.
The announcement by the prefect, who in Italy is the state’s representative within a particular province, ended that loosening of restrictions.
Italian media reports on Tuesday said that a scientific committee advising the government has suggested spectators should be banned from attending sporting events for a month.