Sao Paulo state stops professional sports as COVID-19 rages


SAO PAULO — Professional sports in the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo will stop from Monday until Match 30 because of a rise in coronavirus cases, Gov. João Doria said Thursday.

The decision includes the local soccer championship, which started less than two weeks ago.

Doria said that activities that produce large gatherings need to stop before the state’s health system collapses. More than 87% of intensive care unit beds in the state are taken by patients of the virus, a record number.

On Tuesday, a record 517 deaths attributed to the disease were registered in the state.

Doria said the measure does not impact national and international competitions being played in Sao Paulo, such as the Copa Libertadores.

Earlier Thursday, Sao Paulo’s soccer body argued that other leagues around the world have continued playing under protocols regardless of the state of the pandemic. But doubts about Sao Paulo’s soccer protocols came about after almost 20 players and staffers at Corinthians contracted the virus this month.

Sao Paulo-based clubs have a meeting later Thursday to discuss whether matches should be played in other states.

More than 270,000 people have died with COVID-19 in Brazil.

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