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Monday, 01 March 2021

Tested positive  

After global sports competitions were put on hold, it didn’t take long before some high-profile athletes caught the novel coronavirus

Marawan Elshafei, Tuesday 24 Mar 2020
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The world is on the alert for the coronavirus even after a lockdown was enforced on several countries a week ago.

The sports industry, among others, has been hit hard by the outbreak, not only on the financial level due to the suspension of domestic and international competition but also health-wise. A number of footballers and basketball players around the world have been tested positive for the virus. The only bright side is that most of them remain in good health. 

The pandemic has grounded Italy in particular, with over 4,000 case a day. In football, it started with Daniele Rugani, the Juventus centreback who showed symptoms two weeks ago and was tested positive. Juventus then decided to put all the club’s players and staff in quarantine for 14 days and test them for the virus. Days later, Blaise Matuidi and Paulo Dybala were tested positive, while all other players and staff were negative.

Forward Dybala confirmed via Instagram that he and his girlfriend had both tested positive for the coronavirus, making him the third Juve player to contract the virus.

“Hi everyone, I just wanted to inform you that we have received the results for the Covid-19 test and both Oriana and I have tested positive. Luckily we are in perfect condition. Thanks for your messages,” Dybala said.

Still in Italy, Paolo Maldini, AC Milan’s legendary defender and currently their technical director, was tested positive. Maldini revealed that he and his son Daniel Maldini had also tested positive.

“AC Milan confirms that Paolo Maldini, the club’s technical director, became aware of contact with a person who subsequently tested positive for coronavirus and began to display symptoms of the virus himself,” the club said. “He was administered with a swab test yesterday, the result of which was positive. His son Daniel, a forward in AC Milan’s youth team who had previously been training with the first team, also tested positive.”

Father and son are both well and have already completed two weeks at home without contact with others. They will now remain in quarantine until they have clinically recovered, as per the medical protocols outlined by the health authorities,” the Italian press said. 

In Spain the situation isn’t much better than Italy. Lorenzo Sanz, former Real Madrid president, died after contracting the coronavirus. Sanz, 76, was president at the Bernabeu from 1995-2000, a period in which Real won the Champions League twice.

“My father has just died,” wrote Sanz’s son Lorenzo Sanz Duran on Twitter.

“He did not deserve this end in this manner. One of the best, most courageous and hardworking people I have seen in my life. His family and Real Madrid were his passion.”

Still in Spain, Valencia FC was the most club affected by the pandemic since they had to travel to Italy to face Atlanta in the 16th round of the Champions League weeks ago. The club said that 35 per cent of the club staff, including players contracted the virus. The club didn’t reveal names.

Argentinian defender Ezquiel Garay posted on his Instagram account that he was tested positive. “It’s clear that I have got off to the wrong start in 2020,” Garay said on Instagram. “I’ve tested positive for the coronavirus. I feel very good and now I just have to listen to the health authorities and for now remain isolated,” he added. 

Garay posted an emotional image on his Instagram account during his isolation, saying he must not come in contact with his children and wife Tamara Gorro who posted a touching photo on Instagram this Monday during these undoubtedly tough moments of separation for the couple.

In the image, the Valencia defender can be seen peering through the window of his room, looking longingly towards his wife, who has her hand pressed to the glass as she blows him a kiss.

“Together at a distance” (Garay is wearing a mask on medical recommendations) wrote Gorro in her message accompanying the photo.

In England, Mikel Arteta, Arsenal’s currently head coach, was tested positive weeks ago after which he recovered. Also, Callum Hodsun Odiu Chelsea’s winger contracted the virus. 

Former Manchester United midfielder Marouane Fellaini was diagnosed with Covid-19 following his return to China, the Belgian’s Chinese Super League club Shandong Luneng announced on its official website on Sunday.

In the US, several NBA players were infected. Utah Jazz big man Rudy Gobert and his teammate Donavon Mitchell were tested positive. In California, two Los Angeles Lakers players tested positive, the team confirmed. The names of the players were not made public and they are in the midst of a 14-day self-quarantine.    

After Brooklyn Nets players took the test, four, including former MVP Kevin Durant, were tested positive. The star forward has not played this season due to a torn Achilles tendon.

During the past week, football and basketball stars encouraged people to stay home to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

*A version of this article appears in print in the  26 March, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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