Italian basketball league calls off matches after PM Conte announces coronavirus lockdown

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Top-tier football in Italy will go ahead behind closed doors amid the coronavirus outbreak, but Serie A basketball was suspended in the wake of a major lockdown announced by prime minister Giuseppe Conte.

A government decree issued on Sunday has quarantined 16 million people in central and northern areas of Italy, including the hard-hit Lombardy region.

Schools and nightclubs are being closed, with the death toll in Italy having passed 230 since the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus.

The new impositions, which mean anyone leaving the specified regions will require special permission, are due to run until at least April 3.

The spread of the illness means all Serie A football games will be played behind closed doors, also until April 3.

Damiano Tommasi, president of the Italian Footballers' Association, has called for all football in Italy to be suspended.

And basketball officials did not hesitate to call off their fixtures scheduled for Sunday.

The Lega Basket Serie A said in a statement: "Following the new decree issued by the government containing urgent measures to contain the contagion and the consequent closure measure in Lombardy and in 14 provinces, Lega Basket, in agreement with the Italian Basketball Federation and having also heard from all interested parties, has decided to suspend all matches of the seventh round of return fixtures scheduled for Sunday 8 March."