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2 members of Russian basketball team quarantined in Estonia

BC, Tallinn, 27.11.2020.Print version

Two members of the Russian men's national basketball team have tested positive for the coronavirus and have self-isolated, the sports news portal of public broadcaster ERR reported on Thursday, cites LETA/BNS.

In the first round of testing conducted in Estonia, the result of one player in the national team proved positive. Re-examining the entire team yielded two undefined results -- the same player and another member of the delegation, whose first test was negative. According to the FIBA medical protocol and Estonian legislation, an undetermined result is equated to a positive one, therefore, the two members of the delegation were quarantined, the portal Russiabasket.ru reported.

While the entire team had tested negative for the virus in their home state, the rest of the players could only begin training as a team at the Saku Suurhall arena on Thursday -- a day later than planned -- after having been granted special permission. 

The Russian national team will play two matches in Estonia as part of the European Basketball Championship -- one with Estonia on Nov. 28 and one with Italy on Nov. 30.

The Estonian government approved the proposal of the Ministry of Culture to establish an exception for the organization of the group B matches of the European Basketball Championship qualifiers in Tallinn.

According to the exception, other members of the delegation who test negative for coronavirus will be allowed to continue with organizing training and competing, even if they are identified as a close contact of someone with the virus, provided they test negative after additional testing, government spokespeople said.

Prime Minister Juri Ratas said that the organizers of the European Basketball Championship have made great efforts to conduct the sporting event in a non-infectious manner. "The European Championships taking place in Estonia is an event that affects the future of our sport. The organization of a European top-level sports event will help Estonia to obtain the rights to organize high-level international sports competitions later on as well. Thinking about the future of Estonian sports and trusting the professionalism of the organizers and cooperation with the Health Board, the government today decided to grant this exception," Ratas said.

"Organizing the tournament will give our national team the home court advantage and thus perhaps also an opportunity to gain entry to the 2022 European Championship finals. This, of course, if the team plays good basketball," Minister of Culture Tonis Lukas said.

According to the minister, the exception has been made so that the accidental illness of an individual athlete cannot end the entire tournament. This would be the case under the current procedure, as the entire team would have to leave Tallinn automatically. Lukas added that the tournament would have a wider impact -- due to the spread of COVID-19, several international competitions have been canceled in Estonia since March, and for this reason, any international competition that can be organized in Estonia is positive for the country's economy.

Men's teams from Estonia, Russia, Northern Macedonia and Italy will take part in the European Championship qualifiers. The games will take place on November 28 and 30. The teams will be in Estonia from November 24 to December 1, during which their regular testing and supervision will be ensured. The organization of the tournament follows the COVID-19 protocol of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the restrictions on the spread of the virus established in Estonia. The event will be held without spectators, tickets already sold will be bought back.

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