By Associated Press
June 11, 2021
The European Championship will begin in Italy, the first country outside Asia to be severely affected by the pandemic.
Postponed for a year, the biggest sporting event since the coronavirus crippled the world begins Friday at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome – a milestone for European and world sports.
The opening match of the European football championship will be played in the capital of Italy, the first country outside Asia to be hit by the pandemic and the first in the world to implement a national lockdown. The tournament represents a big step forward on the road to recovery from one of the darkest chapters in the continent’s history since WWII. More than a million Europeans have died in the pandemic, including nearly 127,000 Italians.
“After everything that has happened, now the situation is improving, I think the time has come to start providing the fans with something to be happy with,” said Italian coach Roberto Mancini, who tested positive for COVID-19 in November but was asymptomatic.
The tournament was postponed to last March when countries struggled to contain outbreaks of the virus and major sporting events around the world were canceled or suspended.
Additional reporting by The Associated Press.