Norway’s national men’s football team wasn’t facing Israel on home turf in Oslo on Wednesday after all. The match was controversial, as the second major wave of Corona infection rolls over Norway and much of the rest of the world, and then an Israeli player tested positive after arriving in Oslo.
That heightened complaints, not least from Oslo’s city government leader Raymond Johansen, that the match was “unnecessary” and far too risky. It also came at a time when Johansen has otherwise imposed “a social shutdown” on the Norwegian capital that Norway’s own national football federation seemed to defy.
“New evaluations” from the state health directorate finally prompted the football federation to cancel the match, just hours before kickoff. “When the health authorities are uncertain about the risk of infection after an infection outbreak within the Israeli squad, and recommends cancelling the match, we will of course follow that advice,” NFF’s secretary general, Pål Bjerketvedt, stated in a press release Wednesday afternoon.
The infected Israeli player had been put in isolation along with other teammates he had eaten dinner with in Oslo. On Wednesday morning, Norwegian health authorities decided there remained a risk of infection among both players and staff if the match played out. Media commentators had already criticized the match, claiming that everyone involved could wind up as losers.