French government calls off rugby and soccer leagues

French professional sports leagues including football and rugby cannot restart before September because of coronavirus restrictions, Prime Minister said on Tuesday. Philippe made the announcement as part of a gradual plan to lift the lockdown in France. He said no event where more than 5,000 people gather would be allowed until at least September.

The French government called off the soccer and rugby league seasons on Tuesday because of the coronavirus pandemic.

France is set to come out of lockdown on May 11.

"The 2019-20 season of professional sport, notably soccer, won't be able to resume," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said.

France's top two soccer divisions have 10 games remaining in their seasons. Rugby's Top 14 league had reached the semifinal stage.

Paris Saint-Germain, which leads the French league, has also reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Lyon beat Italian champion Juventus 1-0 at home in the first leg of their last-16 game, but has not yet played the return leg in Turin.

It was not immediately clear how this will affect PSG and Lyon playing in Europe's elite club soccer competition.

If the end of lockdown is confirmed on May 7, people will be able to exercise freely but individually and with certain restrictions, like social distancing, kept in place. People will not be able to exercise in locations with closed roofs "or take part in collective (team) or contact sports," Philippe said.

He also said events with more 5,000 people, like "big sporting and cultural events" will not take place before September.

The Tour de France was rescheduled earlier this month for Aug. 29-Sept. 20.

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