Soccer

Leipzig apologizes to Japanese fans over COVID-19 'mistake'

Kyodo

Bundesliga club Leipzig apologized after a group of Japanese fans was kicked out of a match for fear it was infected with coronavirus, German publication Bild reported Monday.

According to the report, Leipzig admitted its security staff made a “mistake” during Sunday’s 1-1 draw against Bayer Leverkusen at Red Bull Arena, when about 20 Japanese were forced to leave the stadium at the start of the game due to misplaced coronavirus fears.

“Yesterday, I was visiting the game against Bayer Leverkusen. I entered the stadium with no problem,” Taichi Hayashikawa wrote on Twitter.

“However, after the game had started, a security guard of Red Bull Arena said to me that I was infected with COVID-19 because I’m Japanese.”

Other reports in Germany cited social media posts, saying another Twitter user Takeshi Yamakodo claimed, “Due to corona(virus), a group of Japanese was kicked out of the Bundesliga game 15 minutes after the start.”

The club has since released a statement on its website apologizing for the incident, explaining that it had already personally met and apologized to the affected Japanese fans while extending an invitation for them to return.

“The security service was required to check groups of people from potential risk areas in accordance with the Robert Koch Institute’s recommendations for action (“General principles of risk assessment and recommendations for major events”),” the statement read.

“Unfortunately, in the specific case, in the course of the great uncertainty that currently also exists with us on this subject, a mistake in the interpretation towards our Japanese guests has been made.

“We would like to apologize for this mistake.”

Last month, the World Health Organization warned of racism and anti-Asian sentiment linked to coronavirus, with director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus saying “We must stop stigma and hate.”

The coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December.

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