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Nikola Karabatic competes with France at the European Handball Championship. Photo: AFP/FRANCK FIFE


Not only Nikola Karabatic is “stunned”: The lax Corona conditions in the co-host country Hungary are causing a lot of trouble.

Bratislava / Szeged – Lack of distance, guests without a mask and a chaotic organization: The handball EM had not even started when the corona worries of some nations erupted in angry words. “We are stunned by the conditions under which this European Championship is,” complained about France’s exceptional player Nikola Karabatic and thus brought co-host Hungary into a mess.

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Almost exclusively from the camps of the nations housed in Hungary, critical tones could be heard before the tournament started on Thursday evening. “We followed strict protocols to avoid getting the virus. And then we arrive here at the hotel and move among guests who are not wearing masks. We also eat in the same places, ”Karabatic reported angrily.

The French are staying in a hotel in Szeged, Hungary – and not alone with their experiences. The Serbian trainer Toni Gerona wrote on Twitter about a “chaotic organization” in Szeged.

“Incomprehension” by the co-hosts

According to the hygiene protocol of the European Handball Federation (EHF), a classic bubble is not provided for at the “2G-EM”, but the teams have been guaranteed shielded areas for meals and meetings. The Hungarian organizers rejected the allegations of the Serbs and French meanwhile with “incomprehension”.



But worries about infection with the virus are huge, especially in Hungary. The country is known for being lax about the pandemic. In the three gaming halls there are not even spectator restrictions during the tournament. For comparison: In Slovakia, capacity is limited to 25 percent.

“That can’t go well,” said sports medicine professor Wilhelm Bloch, worried about the latest cases: “If so, then only with daily testing, but even then there is still a risk.”

A number of professionals were caught before the tournament started, almost half of all 24 teams had to complain about corona cases during the preparation. Big names like the Croatian runner-up European champions Domagoj Duvnjak (THW Kiel) and Luka Cindric (FC Barcelona) are missing at the start of the European Championship due to the corona.

Hardly any dissatisfaction in Slovakia

In the meantime, there is hardly any dissatisfaction to be heard in co-host country Slovakia. “Everything has been very good here so far, everyone walks around wearing a mask, not as we heard from Hungary,” reported national coach Alfred Gislason on Thursday. Backcourt player Julius Kühn suspected, looking at the reports from Hungary, “that we are actually doing relatively well”.

Nevertheless, the virus also came threateningly closer to the German team, which had previously been spared infections in the preparation phase. The Poles, the last German opponents in the preliminary round, reported five corona cases among players after their arrival in Bratislava. The Polish team is staying in the same hotel as the German team.

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