February 26, 2020 / 2:38 AM / a month ago

Lyon focused on Juve game, not on coronavirus, says coach

PARIS (Reuters) - Olympique Lyonnais are fully focused on their Champions League games against Juventus and refuse to be concerned by the coronavirus outbreak hitting Italy, their coach Rudi Garcia told a news conference on Tuesday.

Soccer Football - Champions League - Olympique Lyonnais Training - Groupama OL Training Center, Lyon, France - February 25, 2020 Olympique Lyonnais coach Rudi Garcia during training REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Lyon said earlier that Wednesday’s last-16 first leg would go ahead as planned following the “French authorities decision to keep (the game) in its initial configuration”.

The death toll in the coronavirus outbreak in Italy, Europe’s largest so far, rose to 11 on Tuesday as the country shut down much of its wealthy north to curb the spread of the disease.

“We are focused on the pitch and nothing else,” Garcia said.

“We let our officials deal with sanitary problems related to the coronavirus.”

The disease has spread in Italy from the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, with new cases reported in central Tuscany, the coastal region of Liguria and Sicily in the south.

The total number of cases in the country has risen to more than 280 and several sporting events have been cancelled and Serie A matches have been ordered to be played behind closed doors.

The return leg between Lyon and Juventus is scheduled to be played on March 17 in Turin in the region of Piedmont, neighbouring Lombardy and Liguria.

In a joint statement, Laurent Fautra, the mayor of Decines, where Lyon’s Groupama stadium is situated, and Christophe Quiniou, his counterpart in neighbouring Meyzieu, urged French authorities not to allow Juve fans to travel to the game.

Yet Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri said the Italian fans should not be prevented from travelling to France.

“The virus is a European problem, not an Italian one. In Italy, 3,500 tests have been made, we have a number of positives. In France you have made 300,” said Sarri.

“If you make 3,000 (tests), you will have the same positives as Italy. Our fans have every right to be here. We face a problem, we have a duty to try to contain it and solve it.”

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ian Chadband

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