Lima, June 30 (IANS) The return of Peru's top football division has been postponed by a week to give clubs more time to implement sanitary protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a top official has said.
The Liga 1 Apertura tournament – suspended on March 12 – will now restart on August 7, league boss Victor Villavicencio said. Officials had targeted July 31 to resume the competition following a conference call with clubs earlier this month, reports Xinhua news agency.
“This is an exceptional situation that nobody expected and, given all of the difficulties, I want to congratulate the clubs for the effort they have been making,” Villavicencio told local radio station RPP.
Matches will be played behind closed doors and with strict sanitary guidelines, he said.
“We have to inspect the training centers to ensure that all biosecurity requirements are met and that proper testing is being conducted,” he added.
Peru is among the South American countries that have been hit hardest by COVID-19. The nation's health ministry has reported more than 282,000 confirmed infections and over 9,500 deaths from the virus.
First division clubs Binacional, Sport Boys, Universitario and Academia Cantolao have each reported positive cases since player testing began in mid-June.
Alianza Universidad lead the Apertura standings after six rounds with 16 points, three points clear of Ayacucho, Binacional and Universitario.
In the past month, the football associations of Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Colombia have also announced plans to restart their respective first division seasons.