HAMBURG – German professional football will remain suspended for the rest of the year owing to the novel coronavirus pandemic, a virologist believes.
Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit from the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg told local broadcasters NDR that a premature resumption of action would pose a major risk.
"It is not realistic to complete the season. We are seeing the situation in Europe and what we are still to face," he said in the interview published on the NDR website and to be broadcast on Sunday.
"And even if we aren’t hit so bad it doesn’t mean football would be allowed to restart. Because that would considerably worsen the situation again.
"So we are talking about about a time frame which will be reached next year, at the earliest."
The German Football League (DFL) confirmed suspension of the top two tiers on Monday, until April 2. Officials seemingly hope to resume in May, at the earliest, possibly behind closed doors in an effort to complete the current season.
However, Schmidt-Chanasit warned that games with spectators would also "tempt people to gather and watch together" and that "fun events" like football should be last on the list when regular life restarts.
Schools and many businesses are closed, people have been asked to stay at home, and a full nation-wide lockdown similar to that in Italy, France and Spain can not be ruled out. Germany has more than 15,000 infections and a death toll of more than 40.