Sports world unites against coronavirus pandemic

AFP Photo

The global sports community is playing an active part in efforts to overcome the pandemic, with top teams and athletes trying to use their influence to convince fans to follow recommended guidelines.

Many sports clubs and athletes are participating in social media campaigns such as "StayHome" and "", sharing messages and videos of their daily workouts that are garnering millions of views.

Among the clubs are European football powerhouses Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), Juventus, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich, all of whom released videos or statements encouraging people to abide by self-isolation and quarantine rules.

In a letter released last week, Real Madrid Chairman Florentino Perez said the Spanish club has taken all measures to do its part in slowing the spread of coronavirus.

"Now is also the time to especially emphasize the value of solidarity, strictly following the indications of the authorities and, above all, remaining at home," he said.

Spain's other footballing giant, Barcelona, posted a message of resilience on Twitter and urged fans to remain indoors.

"Covid19 … We are More than a Club [Barcelona club's motto] and we will emerge from this even stronger. Take care, culers [term for Barcelona fans], and #StayAtHome," read the post.

French champions PSG urged fans to do their part for the world. "If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world," read the message.

Italian club Juventus shared videos of several players doing their workouts and trainings at home. "Whether it's working out at home, kick-ups with a dog or toilet paper, cooking and singing, our Bianconeri [Juventus players] are NOT slowing down!" read the club's Twitter post.

England's top team this season, Liverpool, urged fans to wash their hands regularly to stay clear of the virus.

"Stay safe and keep washing those hands, Reds! It doesn't take long..." the club said in several tweets with accompanying videos.

On Sunday, German club Bayern Munich started the "#StayAtHomeChallenge" in which several Bayern players juggled toilet paper rolls with their feet.

German defender Jerome Boateng, Spanish midfielder Javi Martinez, and Brazilian star Philippe Coutinho challenged their teammates and players from other clubs.
The trend has caught on and many football stars have posted videos of their attempts on social media in recent days.

Barcelona's Argentine superstar Lionel Messi took on and, as expected, aced the challenge. He shared his video on Instagram and managed to juggle a roll of toilet paper 20 times in a row.

Real Madrid's German star Toni Kroos posted a video on social media of him doing dribble drills at home to stay fit during the self-isolation period.

Another athlete from Germany, tennis player Andrea Petkovic, put up a video of her home exercise routine and challenged 2014 Australian Open men's title winner Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland.

Turkish basketball club Fenerbahçe Beko's Italian forward Luigi Datome published a video in Italian and Turkish to raise public awareness.

"The only way to stop the spread of the virus is to stay at home. I know the weather is fine but we have to care for our health. Please stay at home as much as you can. Wash your hands and avoid crowded places," he said.

Datome said he does not want Turkey to suffer like Italy, which now has the highest COVID-19 death toll and the second highest number of cases in the world.

The coronavirus pandemic has completely disrupted the 2020 sporting calendar, with
almost every local and international league and competition in every either called off or postponed.

Among them are the NBA season and Turkish Airlines EuroLeague in basketball, several tennis tournaments including the French Open, which is one of the four Grand Slam events, and top football competitions such as the UEFA Champions League, Europa League, and EURO 2020.

The COVID-19 outbreak that started in Wuhan, China, has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University shows the virus has now spread to 167 countries and regions.

Over 350,500 cases and 15,300 deaths have been reported worldwide since last December, while more than 100,150 people have recovered.

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