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Ice hockey match between Russia’s Lokomotiv and China’s Kunlun cancelled over COVID-19

On September 20, three novel coronavirus cases were officially confirmed among the players of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl HC
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl's players Dmitry Feoktistov/TASS
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl's players
© Dmitry Feoktistov/TASS

MOSCOW, September 22. /TASS/. Russia’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey club has decided against playing a KHL match against Chinese Kunlun Red Star HC on Tuesday night citing safety measures against the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to the Russian club’s press service.

The match between Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and Kunlun hockey clubs was initially scheduled to be played on September 22 at a sports arena in the Moscow Region’s city of Mytishchi.

"The whole team remains in Yaroslavl and is not leaving anywhere," the club’s press service stated.

Eleven players and one staff member of Lokomotiv HC reported symptoms of COVID-19 on September 17. The whole team returned home to Yaroslavl, where it underwent testing for COVID-19 that returned negative results.

Later though, nine players of Lokomotiv FC were showing more intense symptoms of COVID-19 disease and as of September 20 three novel coronavirus cases were officially confirmed among the club’s players.

In a separate development, the press office of KHL’s Salavat Yulaev HC announced earlier in the day that it registered three positive tests for the novel coronavirus. According to the press office, the tests returned positive for Salavat Yulaev HC Head Coach Tomi Lamsa, forwards Markus Granlund and Danil Bashkirov.

Finland’s Jokerit Helsinki ice hockey club played a regular KHL match against Russia’s Neftekhimik HC on September 9 (winning 6-0). Two days later, seven positive cases were reported among the Russian club’s players and staff, prompting the Finnish ice hockey club to place all the players involved in that match under a two-week quarantine and forcing the KHL to reschedule five matches of the Finnish hockey club.

KHL President Alexei Morozov told journalists on September 17 that at least 43 players from the league’s clubs tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The KHL Board of Directors announced on August 7 that the 2020/2021 season, which kicked off on September 2, would see the participation of 23 clubs from six countries compared to 24 clubs during the previous season.

The list of the participating hockey clubs (HCs) for this season was reduced from 24 to 23 after Admiral Vladivostok HC announced earlier in the year a decision to quit the league due to financial difficulties, because the bulk of the regional budget in the Primorye Territory, where the club is stationed, was allocated to fight COVID-19.

The Kontinental Hockey League was founded in Russia in 2008 and listed 24 professional ice hockey clubs until this year, namely from Russia, Belarus, China, Finland, Kazakhstan and Latvia.

Coronavirus pandemic

In late December 2019, Chinese officials informed the World Health Organization (WHO) about the outbreak of a previously unknown pneumonia in the city of Wuhan, in central China. Since then, cases of the novel coronavirus - named COVID-19 by the WHO - have been reported in every corner of the globe, including Russia.

On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, over 31,505,000 people have been infected worldwide and more than 969,000 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 23,132,390 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.

To date, 1,115,810 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Russia, with 917,949 patients having recovered from the disease. Russia’s latest data indicates 19,649 fatalities nationwide. Earlier, the Russian government set up an Internet hotline to keep the public updated on the coronavirus situation.