K League season kick off postponed because of viral outbreak

K League season kick off postponed because of viral outbreak
Workers wearing protective gears prepare to spray disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus at a market in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020. South Korean President Moon Jae-in said his government had increased its anti-virus alert level by one notch to “Red,” the highest level. It allows for the temporary closure of schools and reduced operation of public transportation and flights to and from South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean soccer authorities have indefinitely postponed the start of the 2020 domestic season.

The K League made the announcement after an emergency meeting in Seoul on Monday as the country grapples with the viral outbreak that began in China and has infected more than 79,000 people globally. The number of reported cases in South Korea reached 763 on Monday, including seven deaths. Mainland China has reported 2,592 deaths among 77,150 cases.

While the majority of infections in South Korea have been recorded in the southeastern city of Daegu, there are concerns that the virus could spread nationwide.

On Friday, the K League postponed the opening games of the season for Daegu FC and nearby Pohang Steelers, scheduled to be held this Saturday, but now all games will be suspended until further notice.

The organization also decided that the Asian Champions League games set to be hosted by South Korean clubs in March will go ahead, but in empty stadiums.

The group stage of the continental tournament has already been disrupted by the viral outbreak, with games involving three of the four Chinese clubs involved in the tournament postponed until until late April and early May.

The Chinese Super League was scheduled to kick off last weekend but has been delayed. The Chinese Football Association also announced last week that two 2022 World Cup qualifiers, due to take place in late March against Guam and the Maldives, will be played in Thailand.

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