Football Federation of Belarus (BFF) chairman Vladimir Bazanov said there is no reason to panic after the Belarusian Premier League season kicked off with fans, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19 has disrupted sport across the globe, with the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga & Ligue 1 postponed, while Euro 2020 and Copa America 2020 have been pushed back a year.
Australia's A-League continues to take place, but behind closed doors amid the coronavirus emergency, which has claimed more than 10,000 lives globally.
However, it is business as usual in Belarus – where the season started on Thursday, with fans in attendance as BATE lost 3-1 to Energetyk-Bgu and Torpedo Belaz defeated Shakhtyor 1-0.
With 51 reported cases and no deaths as of Thursday in Belarus, a defiant Bazanov said: "For what reason should we not start it? Is a state of emergency declared in our country?
"There is no critical situation. So we decided that we are starting the championship in a timely manner. Today."
Bazanov added: "Many matches in Europe have been played without spectators. But so many fans gather around the stadium that it makes no sense to close off the game."
"For God's sake," he continued when pressed on neighbouring countries suspending leagues. "We have no prerequisites for this yet…We have no panic. The situation in the country is not such that we need to stop everything. Why escalate the situation?"
On the same day the Belarusian Premier League kicked off, the Premier League in the United Kingdom decided to further suspend the competition until April 30.
"The FA, Premier League, EFL and women’s professional game, together with the PFA and LMA, understand we are in unprecedented times and our thoughts are with everyone affected by Covid-19," a statement from the Football Association read.
"We're united in our commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019-20 football season and ensuring all domestic and European club league and cup matches are played as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.
"We've collectively supported UEFA in postponing Euro 2020 to create space in the calendar to ensure domestic and European club league and cup matches have an increased opportunity to be played and, in doing so, maintain the integrity of each competition.
"The FA’s Rules and Regulations state that “the season shall terminate no later than June 1” and “each competition shall, within the limit laid down by The FA, determine the length of its own playing season”.
"However, our Board has agreed for this limit to be extended indefinitely for the 2019-20 season in relation to professional football. Additionally, we've collectively agreed that the professional game in England will be further postponed until no earlier than Thursday, April 30."