Thinley Namgay 

The growing number of the English Premier League (EPL) players being tested positive for the COVID-19 is worrisome for the Bhutanese fans. 

Starting yesterday, the Premier League matches have been suspended until April.

The solidarity from the fans was beyond expectation. 

Chelsea announced that its winger Callum Hudson Odoi had tested positive for COVID-19  yesterday. “Anyone who comes into contact with the 19-year-old is now self-isolating.”

He is also a winger with the English national team. 

Ngawang Loday, a teacher of Yoeseltse Middle Secondary School in Samtse, said that the news on players being tested positive for COVID-19 was upsetting.  “More than football, the life of the player is important. I’m glad that measures are in place by the authorities concerned to reduce the risk to the palyers.”

He said that many Bhutanese closely follow the EPL. “Multiple cancellations of games would be disheartening for fans.” 

A Manchester United fan, Ngawang said, “Although a big name in the game, Manchester United has not performed well this season. However, I’ve been supporting the team for the last 11 years.”

The match between Arsenal and Brighton, which was scheduled today at Amex stadium in Brighton has also been postponed after Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19.  

BBC reported that the persons who had recent contact with Mikel Arteta would now self-isolate. “Arsenal expects a significant number of people will self-isolate, including the full first-team squad,” BBC reported. 

An Arsenal fan in Thimphu, Sonam Phuntsho, said that it was unfortunate to miss a highly anticipated game. “Arsenal was beginning to perform well and this had to happen. I’m disappointed,” he said, adding that he is hopeful the team members are safe. 

Manchester City defender, Benjamin Mendy, was also reported of being self- isolating as a precaution after one of his family members was admitted to hospital displaying symptoms of the virus. 

Chukha’s electoral registration officer, Namkha Dorji, said that he was unhappy with the news. “Benjamin Mendy is one of the best left footed defender in the club. It will surely hamper the upcoming matches if he tests positive.”

He said that he has been keenly following City since 2013.  “City is a strong team and has good team coordination”

Leicester City’s manager, Brendan Rodgers, have also reported that three of his players  are under isolation after becoming symptomatic for COVID-19. 

EPL is the popular football league closely followed in the country. 

Liverpool is currently dominating the 2019-2020 season with 82 points as of yesterday. Of the 29 matches played so far, Liverpool has won 27 games. Defending champions, Manchester City stands in the second place with 57 points followed by Leicester City with 53 points. 

Bournemouth, Aston Villa and Norwich City are in relegation zone as of yesterday. 

With 19 goals, Jamie Vardy of Leicester City is the top goal scorer as of yesterday followed by Arsenal’s Pierre Emerick Aubameyang with 17 goals and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah with 16 goals. 

According to The Guardian, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) officials will discuss on the possible cancellation of Champions League on March 17.

Meanwhile, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has postponed all the matches since March 12 until further notice after a Utah Jazz player, Rudy Gobert, tested positive for the virus.

NBA cancelled the match between Jazz and Oklahoma Thunder, which was scheduled on March 11. 

Like most of the sports enthusiasts, Thinley Dorji, a LA Lakers fan said NBA athletes are major entertainers in the world. “I was unhappy that Gobert tested positive. I hope he can resume the match soon.”

NBA is the North America’s men’s professional basketball league. Currently, a total of 30 teams, 29 from the United States and one from Canada are competing in the league.