German football champions Bayern Munich played and won their first match in more than two months on Sunday as Spain and Britain recorded their lowest daily coronavirus death tolls since March, but the pandemic continued its devastation elsewhere.
With a worldwide virus death toll above 314,000 and the global economy reeling from the vast damage caused by lockdowns, numerous European countries are lifting restrictions to provide much-needed respite for their beleaguered and impatient populations.
But the virus is still surging in Brazil, which saw its number of deaths soar past 15,000 with more than 230,000 infections, making it the country with the fourth-highest number of cases.
Germany’s Bundesliga at the weekend became the first top football league to return after lockdown, bringing relief not only to European football fans but to a sports-starved world. Defending champions Bayern Munich defeated Union Berlin 2-0 inside an empty stadium in the capital on Sunday evening.
Already attracting a record TV audience, the restart is under intense scrutiny as a test case. Top sports competitions are trying to find ways to resume play without increasing the risk of spreading the virus, which has infected more than 4.6 million people globally.
However, there were calls for the Bundesliga to tighten its hygiene protocol after several players celebrated goals by hugging — two even kissing on the cheek — during Saturday’s games.