Game in Serbia postponed due to coronavirus fears

Sebastian Sternik

Red Star Belgrade’s league fixture with Radnički Belgrade last weekend was postponed following fears that one of the players could have coronavirus.

The match was shelved just two hours before kick-off after it had emerged that Radnički player Aleksandar Cvetkovic had been in contact with a friend who had just tested positive for COVID-19.

While the player’s friend has been hospitalised, Cvetkovic himself is doing fine.

Serbian Rugby League competition director, Dragan Pavlovic, said: “Alexandar was tested for the COVID-19 virus today. Alexandar is feeling well and has no symptoms so far.”

The player was told by the local hospital that he could be infected with the virus and was asked to come for testing. This news forced the league game to face postponement. 

It has been confirmed that should Alexandar’s test results come back positive, the entire Radnički Belgrade squad will need to self-isolate for two weeks. This includes the players and staff. Cvetkovic had trained with his team-mates in the week leading up to the game.

Sport in Serbia was able to resume after the government decide to relax some of its restrictions. The decision came following the country’s relatively low infection rate.

Since the start of the pandemic, almost 13,000 people have tested positive with 262 causalities recorded at the time of writing.  

Similarly to rugby league, football has also been hit by the virus in Belgrade with defending champions Red Star producing five positive COVID-19 cases in the squad. The news was announced just two days following their league win over Proleter which saw an attendance of 18,000 at the Rajko Mitic Stadium.

Less than a fortnight ago, Belgrade played host to a Serbian Cup semi-final between Red Star and Partizan. That derby game was watched by a further 16,000 fans.

Tennis was also affected following two high profile cases which came on the back of the Adria Tour exhibition tournament in Belgrade – organised by world number one Novak Djokovic.

Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and now Djokovic himself tested positive since appearing at the event. The next stage of this competition – which was set to take place in Croatia – has now been cancelled.

With sport in the city clearly affected by the virus, Pavlovic has not ruled out tougher restrictions to return.

He said: “There may be some restrictions. We co-operate with state bodies, primarily with the Ministry of Sports, and we will respect all restrictions that may be introduced by the Government of the Republic of Serbia.”

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