Turkey bars fans from sports stadiums due to coronavirus

Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın said that fans will not be allowed to attend any sporting events in Turkey until the end of April as part of measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, reported state-run Anadolu news agency on Thursday.

“All sporting events in the country until the end of April will be without fans," said Kalın at a press conference in Ankara on Thursday evening. 

Turkey remained free of recorded cases of the virus until early on Wednesday, when Health Minister Fahrettin Koca announced the first case.

Kalın said the patient, who had recently visited Europe, was now in a stable condition.

After Wednesday’s announcement, the government has ramped up its measures to control the spread of the virus, banning public gatherings at schools and indefinitely cancelling weekend leave for military personnel.

The decision to bar fans from sports matches is an abrupt change from previous government statements. On Wednesday the Turkish Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Kasapoğlu had said that Turkey had no plans to play games in empty stadiums due to coronavirus fears.

A directorate responsible for religious affairs has made no public statements about the virus, such as measures to be followed at the country’s often-crowded mosques.

The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus crisis a pandemic, with a death toll of over 4,600 people and more than 124,000 confirmed cases.