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Turkey Suspends Basketball and Soccer Leagues Amid Coronavirus Pandemic


Turkey has suspended its basketball, soccer and volleyball leagues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Youth and Sports Minister Muharrem Kasapoglu announced Thursday.

The decision comes after games had recently continued without fans despite the coronavirus outbreak. Turkish soccer federation president Nihat Ozdemir had argued that the country was one of the least affected by the virus.

Some players and coaches complained about the league going ahead, expressing concerns for their health. MLS and most European soccer leagues had already suspended their seasons.

Turkey's top-tier Basketball Super League had previously closed its games off to fans, but some American players like Shane Larkin and Aaron Harrison asked the league to suspend play. Players chose to take precautions by replacing high-fives with fist bumps and elbow taps, and teams did not shake hands at center court before games. Bahcesehir's Trae Golden considered sitting out of last Saturday's game and management said he was free to do so, but he opted to play after seeing his teammates suit up.

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BSL was one of the last basketball leagues to continue playing after the NCAA tournament was canceled, the NBA suspended its season indefinitely and other European hoops leagues followed.

The coronavirus has affected sports around the globe during its spread. There are more than 218,700 confirmed cases of the virus across at least 147 countries. Turkey has confirmed at least 98 cases throughout the country.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.