(Reuters) - Wolverhampton Wanderers’ request to European soccer’s governing body UEFA to have Thursday’s Europa League last-16, first leg at Olympiakos Piraeus postponed due to the threat of coronavirus has been rejected, the Premier League club said on Tuesday.
Wolves issued a statement here saying the trip posed unnecessary risks to their "players, staff, supporters and the families of all who travel, at such critical and uncertain times".
The English Premier League club added that they respected UEFA’s decision and would travel to Greece for the fixture.
The game will be played without fans after the Greek government enforced a temporary suspension of spectators attending sporting events to limit the spread of the virus.
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo said postponing the game made more sense than playing behind closed doors.
“What’s the point of football? It’s entertainment. Playing behind closed doors doesn’t make sense,” he told Sky Sports.
“Now it’s more than football. It’s a social situation and everybody’s worried and I think something has to be done.
“I think closing doors in stadiums is not the solution because it’s not normal. We are pretending to live a normal life when things are not normal. The point I am trying to make is - is there another solution for it? Why not stop?”
Evangelos Marinakis, the owner of Olympiakos as well as English Championship (second-tier) club Nottingham Forest, said on Tuesday he had contracted the coronavirus.
The virus has infected well over 100,000 people worldwide and killed more than 3,000. Greece has several dozen cases but no fatality so far.
Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Ken Ferris