• Belarus has not canceled its major soccer league amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko has been hostile to the idea of doing so.
  • Belarus’ league is the only major European league to remain active during the pandemic.

MINSK, BELARUS – The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has forced many major sports leagues to shut their doors. However, one notable exception comes in the form of the Belarussian soccer league, the Vysshaya Liga.

Belarus is the last European country to still be playing soccer, joining Myanmar, Turkmenistan, Nicaragua and Burundi as countries that have not shut down their national leagues in the face of the crisis.

The biggest reason why a country would want to shut down soccer matches is that they are massive vectors for transmission – large groups of people, gathered in close quarters, open mouthed and screaming.

This response to the crisis is quite unlike the way in which the rest of the world has responded to it, with every other major European league shutting down for the duration, including the Champions League.

Some of the quotes from Belarussian president Alexander Lukashenko about the virus are truly something to behold.

“People are working in tractors. No one is talking about the virus…There, the tractor will heal everyone. The fields heal everyone” Lukashenko opined.

“I don’t drink, but recently I’ve been saying that people should not only wash their hands with vodka, but also poison the virus with it. You should drink the equivalent of 40-50 milliliters of rectified spirit daily. But not at work.”

Lukashenko followed up this statement with advice for his people: “Go to the sauna. Two or three times a week will do you good. When you come out of the sauna, not only wash your hands, but also inside, 100 grams (of vodka).”

There is no scientific evidence behind any of Lukashenko’s statements.

However, MLS bettors are grateful to the Belarussian leader for keeping the sport going. With every other league shuttered, interest in the Belarussian league has spiked as people around the world look for something to watch.

Online sportsbooks have highlighted the Vysshaya Liga as well, given that it retains the function of being the only game in town, so to speak.

It remains to be seen how long this state of affairs lasts. If the president is to be believed, it will last as long as he wants – and the affairs of Belarus have long gone the way Lukashenko wants them to go.

For now, the eyes of the legal sports betting world are turned to Belarus, for the first time in a very long time.

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