Bayern Munich are set to play home matches behind closed doors "for the foreseeable future" due to rising coronavirus infection rates.

Two cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant were detected in Bavaria at the weekend.

As of Monday, the seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases in the southern German state stood at 12,304.

Government officials are scheduled to meet on Thursday to decide on new restrictions for the country in an attempt to halt the spread of the respiratory illness.

The state of Saxony has already stopped supporters from attending matches and Bavaria will now do likewise, regardless of the outcome of Thursday's meeting.

Speaking on Tuesday, Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Soder told state broadcaster BR: "When Christmas markets are closed, it is not appropriate to have full stadiums."

"It makes no sense for the foreseeable future to admit viewers again. It is an important demand that we decide today that we will no longer allow viewers in the future. 

"If that doesn't work at the federal level, we would do it for Bavaria alone."

Soder later used Twitter to justify his comments, posting: "The high mobility when travelling to and from the club is currently irresponsible. 

"Football is a great role model. We now have to reduce contacts everywhere."

No timeline was set by Soder, but Bayern do not play at the Allianz Arena again until Barcelona visit in the final round of Champions League matches on December 8.

The Bundesliga champions then host Mainz in the league three days later and Wolfsburg on December 17 in their final game before the mid-season hiatus.

Fellow Bavarian Bundesliga sides Augsburg and Greuther Furth would also be affected by the measures.

Portugal's national health institute, INSA, has reported 13 cases of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19 at Belenenses SAD.

B-SAD were forced to face Benfica on Saturday with just nine players - including two goalkeepers - after positive tests for 13 members of the squad.

Benfica went into half-time 7-0 up and B-SAD were forced to forfeit shortly after the restart due to insufficient players as injuries reduced the hosts - who were without any substitutes - to six men.

Among the B-SAD players to miss out was Cafu Phete, who had recently spent time in South Africa - where the Omicron variant was first detected - and it now appears that he and the other 12 members of the squad have tested positive for this new strain of coronavirus. 

"Preliminary tests carried out at INSA strongly suggest that all 13 cases associated with players of Belenenses SAD are linked to the variant of concern Omicron," INSA's statement to Publico read.

"The predictive value of the tests carried out is already very high."

Benfica's players are set to be tested as Portuguese authorities respond to the Omicron variant being found inside the country's borders.

"We'll have more proactive isolation and a more intensive testing of contacts," Graca Freitas - Portugal's Director-General for Health - told TSF. 

Flights into Portugal from Mozambique have now been banned, while two positive cases were discovered among the 218 people to have arrived on the last such flight on Saturday.

Novak Djokovic is unlikely to play at the Australian Open in January unless COVID-19 vaccination rules are relaxed, according to the player's father.

Organisers recently confirmed that players must be vaccinated against coronavirus to compete in the tournament, which begins on January 17.

World number one Djokovic, who won a record ninth title in Melbourne last year, has not publicly stated whether he has had the jab.

Srdjan Djokovic told Serbia's TV Prva that being vaccinated is a personal choice, and that Tennis Australia's rules are essentially "blackmail".

"As far as vaccines and non-vaccines are concerned, it is the personal right of each of us whether we will be vaccinated or not," he was quoted as saying by news website B92.

"No one has the right to enter into our intimacy, it is guaranteed by the constitution. Everyone has the right to decide on their health.

"Whether [Novak] is vaccinated or not, that is his exclusive right. Will he publish it, I don't think so. I don't know that decision either, and if I did, I wouldn't share it with you. He has the right to decide as he wants."

When asked about Djokovic's decision to play in Australia, his father added: "Whether he will appear there depends on how [the organisers] position themselves. He would want it with all his heart because he's an athlete, and we would love that too.

"Under these blackmails and conditions, he probably won't. I wouldn't do that. And he's my son, so you decide for yourself."

Djokovic, who is tied on 20 major singles titles with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, recently said he was unsure of his participation following his appearance at the ATP Finals in Turin.

"I was just waiting to hear what the news is going to be and now that I know we'll just have to wait and see," he said.

Portugal's Primeira Liga was the laughingstock of Europe on Saturday due to the farcical scenes that took place in Benfica's trip to coronavirus-ravaged Belenenses SAD, a game that was ultimately forfeited by the hosts.

B-SAD, a controversial offshoot of historic club Belenenses, were plunged into crisis this week when 13 of their players tested positive for coronavirus – among them was Cafu Phete, who had recently been in South Africa, where the new Omicron variant of the virus was first detected.

Despite the depleted nature of their squad, club president Rui Pedro Soares confirmed earlier in the day they had not asked Benfica to postpone the fixture, seemingly to the dismay of players who published coordinated messages to social media as the match kicked off in Oeiras, Lisbon.

The statement read: "Football only has heart if it is competitive. Football only has heart if it is really sporting. Football only has heart when it is an example of public health. Today, football lost its heart."

B-SAD started the match with just nine players on the pitch, many of whom were members of their Under-23s side, and that included goalkeeper Joao Monteiro playing in defence.

Benfica were ahead inside 24 seconds thanks to an own goal by Eduardo Kau; while the visitors did not score again until the 14th minute, the writing was on the wall.

They were 7-0 up at half-time thanks to a Darwin Nunez hat-trick, Haris Seferovic brace and a solitary Julian Weigl goal.

"What is this? Am I the only one who doesn't understand why the game hasn't been postponed?" asked former Benfica player Bernardo Silva on Twitter.

B-SAD did return to the pitch for the second half but with only seven players, and as soon as the game resumed, the hosts put the ball into touch and another player dropped to the turf citing an injury.

The referee called a halt to the game due to B-SAD running out of players, with teams required to have a minimum of seven on the pitch.

It has not been confirmed whether Benfica will be awarded just a 3-0 win, as is standard for a forfeiture, or take the full 7-0 scoreline.

South Africa and Netherlands could abandon their three-match ODI series without a match being completed as escalating COVID-19 concerns coincided with a rain abandonment on Friday.

Worries about an emerging strand of the coronavirus have caused a number of countries, including the Netherlands, to halt incoming flights from South Africa.

The Dutch cricket board – the KNCB – has held discussions with Cricket South Africa (CSA) about prospects for the scheduled second and third matches in their series going ahead on Sunday and Wednesday, promising a swift decision.

The first game at SuperSport Park in Centurion fell victim to the weather on Friday, with South Africa totting up 277-8 before Netherlands were halted at 11-0 in their reply as rain fell.

Centurion is located in Gauteng Province, which is where a large proportion of cases of the new COVID-19 strand have been detected. SuperSport Park is also due to stage the second and third games in the series.

In a joint statement, both boards said: "Cricket South Africa and Koninklijke Nederlandse Cricket Bond are aware of news reports doing the rounds regarding the Netherlands tour to South Africa being cancelled or postponed.

"Both boards can confirm that following updated information, it is highly unlikely that the visiting team will be able to fly out of South Africa before their scheduled flight. The KNCB is reviewing all of its options, while prioritising the physical and mental well-being of its players.

"A decision on the continuation of the series will follow in the next 24 to 48 hours, while all flight options are being considered."

Kyle Verreynne anchored South Africa's innings in the opening ODI, coming in at 24-2 and going on to make 95 from 112 deliveries.

Janneman Malan (16) and Reeza Hendricks (6) faltered at the top of the order as both fell to Fred Klaassen (2-45), but Verreynne and Zubayr Hamza (56) put on 119 for the third wicket.

A top-edged pull from Hamza off Brandon Glover saw Scott Edwards take an easy catch to break up that alliance, and Verreynne was one big hit away from a maiden international century when he flogged a full toss from Vivian Kingma to Bas de Leede on the deep square leg boundary.

Andile Phehlukwayo flayed the Dutch attack for 48 from 22 balls, hitting six sixes before Glover improved his expensive figures slightly to 2-70 by bowling the all-rounder with the final ball of the innings.

Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala will be back in the Bayern Munich squad to face Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday but Marcel Sabitzer is facing a spell on the sidelines.

Bayern have been hard hit by coronavirus, but Julian Nagelsmann revealed Gnabry, Musiala and Michael Cuisance will come out of quarantine on Friday.

The trio have been cleared to return after testing negative, but will not be considered to start.

Niklas Sule and Josip Stanisic have stepped up their recovery from COVID-19 in training this week, but neither will start the Bundesliga encounter this weekend.

Joshua Kimmich and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting remain in isolation after they contracted the virus.

Kimmich has come in for criticism for not taking the vaccine, but Nagelsmann has sympathy for the Germany midfielder.

Nagelsmann said in a press conference on Friday: "I have a lot of contact with him. He is extremely ambitious. It is a burden for him that he cannot play."

The Bayern boss revealed Sabitzer will be out for "a few weeks" due to a calf injury, while Tanguy Nianzou misses Bielefeld's visit to the Allianz Arena due to a torn ligament in his shoulder.

Leaders Bayern suffered a shock 2-1 defeat to Augsburg last Friday before beating Dinamo Kiev by the same scoreline in the Champions League.

Bielefeld are second-bottom of the table with only one win this season, but Nagelsmann says they must not be taken lightly. 

"Bielefeld have shown a clear improvement to last year. Masaya Okugawa is playing very well, has a lot of confidence on the ball and is versatile. They have a strong shape and always look to play deep.

"I know their coach [Frank Kramer]. Arminia have grown in terms of their physicality and the way in which they play. There are some parallels that can be drawn with Augsburg. It's a very important game for us."

Eddie Howe is set for his first Newcastle United game in the dugout after returning a negative COVID-19 test before the trip to Arsenal.

Former Bournemouth manager Howe was named Newcastle's new head coach on November 8, the first appointment by the Magpies following the club's Saudi-backed takeover.

However, Howe was forced to isolate after returning a positive coronavirus test, leaving Newcastle without their manager on the sideline for the first Premier League game of his tenure at home to Brentford.

Jason Tindall, Howe's assistant manager, and Graeme Jones, the previous interim coach after Steve Bruce's dismissal, led the team in that 3-3 draw, but Newcastle have confirmed Howe will be on the touchline at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.

Asked about Howe's return, Tindall told reporters on Friday: "You want your manager here with you. 

"We've missed him as a group of staff and I'm sure the players have missed seeing him at the training ground. We're certainly looking forward to having him back.

"Eddie has seen training back every day. We film it and that will then be sent to him in the afternoon to review it back, as will we as coaches. Then we will feed back what's necessary to the players the following day."

 Newcastle sit bottom of the league as the only side still without a win across England's top four tiers – their current winless run of 12 top-flight games is their longest since a run of 13 between December 2007 and March 2008.

No side have conceded more than Howe's new team in the Premier League this season (27), while the Magpies have lost 16 of their last 17 Premier League meetings with Arsenal.

Bayern Munich confirmed on Wednesday that Joshua Kimmich has tested positive for COVID-19.

The Germany star, who has stated he is unwilling to receive a coronavirus vaccine until more is known about possible long-term effects, missed Bayern's matches against Augsburg and Dynamo Kiev after being deemed a close contact of someone with the virus.

"Joshua Kimmich is self-isolating at home after testing positive for COVID-19. The FC Bayern midfielder is doing well," the Bundesliga champions said in a short statement.

The club previously announced forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had also returned a positive test and could continue isolating at home.

The 32-year-old had already quarantined along with Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala and Michael Cuisance amid concerns about possible infection.

It was reported by Bild last week that any Bayern players who were forced to isolate having not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 would have their pay withheld for the duration of their absence from first-team duties.

Head coach Julian Nagelsmann had insisted he did not fear any such measures could cause friction within the squad.

Germany boss Hansi Flick told reporters he expected Kimmich to receive his vaccine when possible and defended the player from criticism.

"I think that it is going in this direction. We talked and I think it was a very good conversation. Now we have to wait and see," he said when asked if Kimmich would get the jab.

"Jo Kimmich is not to blame for the high number of infections. I don't think it's good that he is being pilloried in this way. It's not that easy for young people to deal with something like that."

Germany has recently seen a spike in coronavirus infections, with nearly 67,000 recorded on Wednesday, a record daily figure since the start of the pandemic.

The return of restrictions to halt the spread of the virus have been considered, while public spaces in some states have already introduced rules limiting access only to those who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus.

Bayern Munich forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has tested positive for coronavirus.

Choupo-Moting had already been self-isolating, along with team-mates Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich, Jamal Musiala and Michael Cuisance, after coming into contact with a person who had contracted the respiratory illness.

Bundesliga leaders Bayern confirmed on their official website on Wednesday that the 32-year-old has also now tested positive and will continue to quarantine.

"Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has tested positive for COVID-19," the statement read. 

"The FC Bayern forward is self-isolating at home in accordance with the relevant health authorities and doing well under the circumstances."

German media outlet Bild reported last week that Bayern have told players they will have their pay withheld for time missed in quarantine if they have not been fully vaccinated.

Choupo-Moting, who has made 11 of his 12 appearances for the German champions this season from the bench, is reported to be among those yet to receive both doses.

However, speaking on Monday, head coach Julian Nagelsmann insisted he does not see the issue of players potentially going unpaid causing any friction in the camp.

"It's always a group's distinction that you don't always agree," he said.

"In a functioning team, however, everyone has to be there for everyone. I don't think it will break the team, we have to grow from it. 

"By not vaccinating, they are more likely to fail. But we have to be there for each other, we should grow from that.

"You often have conversations, if the person is positive, you have to be in quarantine as an unvaccinated person.

"The players are doing fine though, they are being tested. Josh could return earlier than the others because he was quarantined earlier."

In better news for Bayern, Niklas Sule and Josip Stanisic returned to individual training on Wednesday after completing their own periods of self-isolation.

Dayot Upamecano also took part in training a day on from missing Bayern's 2-1 Champions League win at Dynamo Kiev that clinched top spot in Group E.

Julian Nagelsmann is certain the issue of whether to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or not will not disrupt the harmony of his Bayern Munich team but is keen to avoid internal decisions leaking to the media.

Bayern were without Joshua Kimmich for Friday's shock Bundesliga defeat to Augsburg as he was forced to quarantine after coming into close contact with a positive case for coronavirus and has not been jabbed.

Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting and Michael Cuisance are now also in quarantine having come into contact with a person who tested positive and has close contact to the team.

German media outlet Bild has since reported Bayern have told players they will have their pay withheld for time missed in quarantine if they have not been vaccinated, with claims saying certain members of the squad are considering legal action against such measures.

Head coach Nagelsmann does not foresee the issue causing a split in the team, though,

Speaking prior to Tuesday's Champions League clash with Dinamo Kiev, he said: "It's always a group's distinction that you don't always agree.

"In a functioning team, however, everyone has to be there for everyone. I don't think it will break the team, we have to grow from it. 

"By not vaccinating, they are more likely to fail. But we have to be there for each other, we should grow from that.

"You often have conversations, if the person is positive, you have to be in quarantine as an unvaccinated person.

"The players are doing fine though, they are being tested. Josh could return earlier than the others because he was quarantined earlier."

Nagelsmann did, though, add that such matters should always be an internal matter and not be played out in the press.

"Of course I'm not happy that certain internals are leaked, that's not beneficial. It's also about private things," he added.

"There are too many things that are carried outwards. But that doesn't endanger our sporting success. It would be nicer if it was a little more closed. 

"I have more fun when everything goes in the right direction. But we mustn't make the topic too big, every club has these problems. We mustn't project these issues too much onto the sporting side. 

"We have moved forward in all statistical values. A week ago we were celebrated. Noise has been a part of FC Bayern for years."

The suspended Dayot Upamecano will miss out, while Kinglsey Coman and Marcel Sabitzer are injury doubts, but Niklas Sule and Josip Stanisic face late fitness tests having returned negative coronavirus tests after previously contracting the illness.

"We're still not sure if 'King' and 'Sabi' can play. With Sabi, it doesn't look too good because he has problems with his Achilles tendon and calf. 'King' no longer feels any muscle pain, but we have to see tomorrow," Nagelsmann said.

"We have an important game on Saturday, and we have to make sure he doesn't miss it. If they're both unavailable, we still have 13 outfield players.

"Despite being without at least eight players, we still have a very good team. 'Niki' [Sule] has tested negative and will be examined tomorrow. The same applies to Stanisic. We might have two more alternatives at the weekend."

Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic does not know if he will defend his crown due to the COVID-19 mandate in Victoria.

It remains to be seen whether world number one Djokovic will fly to Melbourne in January amid vaccination requirements.

The state of Victoria, where the year's opening grand slam takes place at Melbourne Park, has introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes and across most industries due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As doubts over Djokovic's participation linger, the 34-year-old superstar was asked about his Australian Open plans after losing to Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals of the ATP Finals on Saturday.

"I haven't been talking to [Tennis Australia], to be honest," nine-time Australian Open champion Djokovic told reporters after his 7-6 (7-4) 4-6 6-3 defeat in Turin.

"I was just waiting to hear what the news was going to be. Now that I know, we'll just have to wait and see."

The 2021 Australian Open went ahead, albeit in February instead of January, and without fans for most of the tournament following a snap lockdown of Melbourne due to COVID-19.

Djokovic – winner of a joint-record 20 grand slam titles – was among the players critical of the conditions athletes endured prior to this year's Australian Open, with strict quarantine measures introduced.

Werder Bremen coach Markus Anfang has quit the German club as investigations continue into claims he used a forged COVID-19 vaccine certificate.

Public prosecutors are examining the case, with Anfang having denied any wrongdoing in discussions with the club before he stepped down on Saturday.

Werder's 40-year run in the Bundesliga ended when they were relegated in May, and Anfang was appointed in June to lead the team in their quest for promotion back to the top flight.

The four-time Bundesliga champions announced Anfang and his assistant Florian Junge had both resigned.

Anfang had said on Thursday that he had been double vaccinated and expressed hope the matter would be "cleared up quickly", but that has not yet materialised.

A club statement read: "Head coach Markus Anfang and assistant coach Florian Junge resigned from their offices with immediate effect on Saturday morning. The reason for the decision are the public prosecutor's investigations against both coaches and the resulting unrest in and around the club."

Anfang commented on his departure by saying: "Due to the extremely stressful situation for the club, the team, my family and myself, I have decided that I will end my job as Werder Bremen's head coach with immediate effect."

The announcement came ahead of a Saturday evening 2. Bundesliga clash with Schalke, another mainstay of the Bundesliga who tumbled into the second tier at the end of last season.

Werder managing director of football Frank Baumann said: "With their step, Markus and Florian take on responsibility and thus contribute to ending the unrest that has arisen around the club and the team in the last few days. We respect their decision and will now start looking for a new head coach."

It was also revealed on Saturday that Werder's head of professional football and scouting, Clemens Fritz, has tested positive for COVID-19 and would be absent from the bench for the Schalke game.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has insisted all players, including Novak Djokovic, must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to compete at the January grand slam.

Djokovic's vaccination status is unclear, and he has so far refused to confirm whether he has been jabbed, which has led to doubts over whether he will be in Melbourne.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has made it clear that tennis stars arriving for the tournament must be prepared to show proof of having protection against the virus.

For Djokovic, who is competing this week at the ATP Finals in Turin, it remains to be seen whether he is willing to go through that process.

Tiley told Channel Nine: "It's been made very clear, when the Premier announced several weeks ago that in order to participate at the Australian Open, to come into Victoria, you'll need to be fully vaccinated.

"Immediately we communicated that to the playing group, it is the one direction that you take that is going to ensure everyone's safety. All the playing group understands it, our patrons will need to be vaccinated, all the staff working at the Australian Open will need to be vaccinated.

"But when we're in a state where there's more than 90 per cent of the population fully vaccinated, they've done a magnificent job with that, it's the right thing to do."

Tiley said organisers "would love to see Novak" make the trip to a tournament he has won a record nine times.

Djokovic sits on 20 grand slam titles, the same mark as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. He needs one more to set the outright men's record, having lost to Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final in September.

"We have been speaking to Novak Djokovic's team and Novak and the team understand clearly that in order to come and play the Australian Open they'll need to be fully vaccinated," Tiley said, according to ABC.

"I know that he wants to play it, he's clearly indicated that and he knows the conditions that he'd have to undergo in order to be eligible to play."

The tournament is due to get under way on January 17, with the player bubbles and quarantine measures that were in force at the 2021 edition no longer in place and Melbourne Park set to operate at full capacity.

Australian player Nick Kyrgios this week said he believes the vaccine mandate is "morally wrong".

Joshua Kimmich will miss Bayern Munich's Bundesliga match at Augsburg on Friday as he is self-isolating after coming into close contact with someone who may have coronavirus.

Julian Nagelsmann on Thursday revealed that Kimmich missed training as a precautionary measure as Bayern awaited the results of his PCR test.

The Bundesliga champions confirmed on Friday that Kimmich, Niklas Sule and Josip Stanisic are in isolation.

Germany midfielder Kimmich, who has publicly confirmed he has not yet received either dose of his vaccine, had recently been forced into isolation along with Serge Gnabry and Jamal Musiala due to being in close contact with Niklas Sule.

Sule withdrew from the Germany squad to face Liechtenstein and Armenia after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Croatia defender Stanisic's positive test was revealed this week following his return from international duty.

Nagelsmann stated that Kimmich had come into close contact with an individual "in his private sphere" who may have the virus.

Kicker reported that Kimmich, Gnabry and Musiala – who are all unvaccinated – are being split up for the rest of the Bayern squad due a spike in COVID-19 cases. 

Kingsley Coman misses the clash with Augsburg due to a minor muscle problem.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers insist "no irregularities were observed" after a report contained the claim that Antonio Brown procured a fake COVID-19 vaccine card.

A story from the Tampa Bay Times featured the allegation that wide receiver Brown was willing to pay his former live-in chef Steven Ruiz $500 if he could obtain a vaccine card for the NFL star.

The report says Ruiz was unable to secure cards but claimed he was later shown fake documentation by Brown.

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said in a statement: "We are aware of the report and have been in contact with the club. We will review the matter."

While players in the NFL do not have to be vaccinated in order to play, those who are not jabbed face stricter restrictions under the league's protocols put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Brown's attorney, Sean Burstyn, was quoted by NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport as saying "be like Antonio Brown and get the vaccine", and insisted his client is indeed vaccinated against COVID-19.

Defending Super Bowl champions the Bucs have now also reacted to the claims.

A team statement read: "After an extensive educational process conducted throughout our organisation this past offseason highlighting the benefit of COVID-19 vaccines, we received completed vaccination cards from all Tampa Bay Buccaneers players and submitted the required information to the NFL through the established process in accordance with league policy.

"All vaccination cards were reviewed by Buccaneers personnel and no irregularities were observed."

Brown missed the Bucs' week three game against the Los Angeles Rams after testing positive for COVID-19. He featured in the team's following three games before being sidelined by an ankle injury.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.