ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — Slovakia defender Denis Vavro and a member of the team’s coaching staff have tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of the European Championship match against Sweden, coach Stefan Tarkovic said Thursday.
They are the first positive tests for COVID-19 to have been announced since Euro 2020 started.
Tarkovic said Vavro has no symptoms and is isolating. He didn’t disclose the name of the coach.
Testing took place at the team's training base in St. Petersburg on Wednesday, two days after Slovakia's first game of the tournament in the Russian city.
The game against Sweden on Friday is also in St. Petersburg.
“We started to work with the Russian public health authorities,” Tarkovic said through a translator, “and started to apply the corresponding UEFA protocol. So we took all the steps to avoid the spread of the infection.”
UEFA protocol states that teams with fewer than 13 players could have their game “rescheduled within the next 48 hours of the date of the relevant match” and possibly at a different venue.
“Any additional player called up to meet the minimum of 13 players requires that an equivalent number of quarantined players are definitively withdrawn from the 26 players list,” the European soccer body said.
Sweden players Dejan Kulusevski and Mattias Svanberg tested positive for the virus ahead of the tournament. Kulusevski is expected to play a part in the match at Saint Petersburg Stadium.
Russia reported on Friday, hours before the first game of the tournament between Italy and Turkey, that winger Andrey Mostovoy tested positive for the virus. Russian authorities didn’t quarantine any players as close contacts on that occasion.
In its protocols, UEFA states in case of any positive tests that teams “must implement a rigorous contact-tracing program for the members of its testing pool.”
“This program must keep careful note of interactions between persons in the group such as when seated on planes/buses, mealtimes, keeping track of training interactions, any medical care interactions and social exchanges,” it says.
Authorities in St. Petersburg this week tightened anti-coronavirus restrictions in an effort to curb a new spike in infections. That included closing food courts in the city’s shopping malls and its Euro 2020 fan zone.
Belgium's players will spend less time in St. Petersburg ahead of its third match in the group stage, against Finland on Monday, because team management wanted the squad to prepare “in a more COVID-safe environment.”
Instead of arriving on Friday, the team will fly to St. Petersburg the day before the game against Finland.
Slovakia beat Poland 2-1 in its first game in Group E. The 25-year-old Vavro was an unused substitute.
“It is a tough situation for the player, who has the whole career ahead of him and was looking forward to the Euros,” Tarkovic said. “So it’s a shame he is out due to that situation.”
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