Germany's Bundesliga gets the green light to restart in empty stadiums this month

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The Bundesliga could be back up and running by the end of next week.

Following a much-anticipated Wednesday meeting with regional leaders, German chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to allow the country’s top two divisions resume the 2019-20 season inside empty stadiums as soon as May 15. Like the rest of the sporting world, the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga went dark in March in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.

But Germany’s handling of the crisis has been among the best of any nation and, as a result, the Bundesliga — one of the world’s four elite domestic soccer circuits along with the England’s Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A — will become the highest-profile sports competition to date to reopen, albeit under strict guidelines that includes widespread testing of players and staff and playing matches without fans in attendance.

When exactly that happens has not yet been determined. Wednesday’s decision gave the Deutscher Fussball-Bund (DFB), or German Football Association, the final say on when to actually resume matches, with a firm date expected to be confirmed on Thursday. The hope is that the season, which was more than 70 percent complete when it was suspended, can be finished by the end of June.

The DFB on Monday announced that close to 2,000 tests had been conducted on players and staff across its two top leagues. Ten of those people tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

The 36 teams that comprise the top two tiers of the German game have been training in small groups since early April. Bayern Munich, which has won the last seven Bundesliga titles, was atop the standings when the league shut down indefinitely on March 13

This is a developing story. It will be updated.

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