German sport faces disruption as 4th wave of coronavirus hits


FILE - Moenchengladbach players celebrate in front of the boxes with photos of fans displayed on the stands at the end of the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and Union Berlin when the stadiums were closed to fans during the first corona wave in Moenchengladbach, Germany, Sunday, May 31, 2020. Games canceled, players in quarantine, disputes over vaccine mandates.  Sports in Germany face a winter of discontent and disruption as the country suffers a fourth wave of spiraling coronavirus infections.  (AP Photo / Martin Meissner, Pool, File)

FILE – Moenchengladbach players celebrate in front of the boxes with photos of fans displayed on the stands at the end of the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and Union Berlin when the stadiums were closed to fans during the first corona wave in Moenchengladbach, Germany, Sunday, May 31, 2020. Games canceled, players in quarantine, disputes over vaccine mandates. Sports in Germany face a winter of discontent and disruption as the country suffers a fourth wave of spiraling coronavirus infections. (AP Photo / Martin Meissner, Pool, File)

PA

Games canceled, players in quarantine and disputes over vaccine mandates.

Sport in Germany faces a winter of disruption as the country experiences a fourth wave of rising coronavirus infections.

On Monday, Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich had five players in quarantine because they are not vaccinated and two more in isolation after contracting COVID-19.

A feud is reportedly brewing behind the scenes with the club planning to write off the wages of unvaccinated players – Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting and Michael Cuisance – because their reluctance to shooting them further puts them at risk of missing games.

“It’s obvious,” said Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann, who himself missed four team games after contracting COVID-19 despite being vaccinated.

Bayern surprisingly lost in Augsburg in Kimmich’s absence on Friday, and the club are concerned that unvaccinated players may also miss the potentially decisive clash with Borussia Dortmund on December 4. Dortmund are only one point behind Bayern in the Bundesliga and their side are either fully vaccinated or cured.

Dortmund gave the vaccination status of its players on Monday following the positive result of Thorgan Hazard’s test for COVID-19. No other player is affected.

Already declining in players, Bayern will also be declining fans for home games. Bavarian state officials are capping the number of spectators at 25% of capacity for all sporting events in a bid to bring the rise in infections under control.

Bavaria’s seven-day infection rate per 100,000 population was 640 on Monday, almost twice as bad as the national rate of 386.5 – which is the highest on record for Germany so far in the pandemic .

The only state that does worse than Bavaria is Saxony, which has completely excluded fans in a bid to control the outbreak.

The Ski Jumping World Cup in Klingenthal will take place without spectators from December 9 to 12, and soccer teams from Leipzig, Dynamo Dresden and Erzgebirge Aue will all have to play their home games in empty stadiums.

Bars and nightclubs are also due to close, while popular Christmas markets have been canceled.

Leipzig criticized the local government on Saturday for not doing enough to control the outbreak in the first place.

“The highest infection rate of any federal state, combined with the lowest vaccination rate, is proof that politicians in Saxony have yet to implement solid concepts to effectively control the pandemic “said the Bundesliga club.

Leipzig, which is backed by energy drink maker Red Bull, also referred to what it called a “competitive disadvantage, currently being the only Premier League team due to play their next home games in an empty stadium”.

Christian Heidel, the sporting director of the Mainz football club, criticized politicians on Sunday for what he called “populism” for suggesting mandatory vaccines for players.

“The vaccination rate in politics is not as high as it is in football,” Heidel said.

No games have been called off in the Bundesliga so far this season, but there have been cancellations in the second and third divisions. The St. Pauli match against Sandhausen, the Zwickau match against Magdeburg and the Würzburger Kickers match against Eintracht Braunschweig have all been called off due to epidemics.

Other sports have also been affected.

Two German handball league matches were called off this weekend, the Leipzig handball team will be without supporters due to new lockdown measures, and the organizers of an annual sailing regatta in the northern coastal city de Lübeck canceled the event for the second year in a row.

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Naomi C. Amerson