Darts World Championships on red alert over Covid outbreak fears as Raymond van Barneveld tests positive

DARTS BOSSES are on high alert of a possible Covid outbreak at Ally Pally after Raymond van Barneveld tested positive.

Holland’s five-time darts world champion announced on social media on Christmas Eve that he started feeling unwell and experiencing a “shortness of breath and fever” following his second-round exit against Rob Cross last Thursday night.

And the PDC will hope all 32 players provide a clean bill of health tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday when they return to the North London Palace for the third round.

If anyone tests positive before their matches from now onwards they will booted out of the tournament and miss out on the £500,000 winners’ jackpot.

Their next opponent will simply receive a bye into the next round as no reserves are available at this stage of the competition.

Van Barneveld is the first player known to contract the bug since the 2022 show began on December 15.

The 54-year-old, who is diabetic, wore a mask during the walk-on for his first match last Monday – but didn’t have one on for the Cross clash.

He says he will remain in London in isolation and has informed rival Cross of his situation.

Barney, 54, said: “Dear fans, unfortunately I have to announce that I’ve tested positive on Covid-19.

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“During the match I didn’t have any symptoms, but afterwards I started to realise that I was developing a shortness of breath and fever.

“I directly called my manager Ben de Kok and he advised to go straight to my hotel room and to not give interviews in order to avoid any risk.

“At the moment I do suffer from fever and serious tiredness.

“The upcoming days I will stay in quarantine at London.

“We’ve already spoken with Rob Cross and the PDC about the current situation. Stay safe.”

All 96 players in the William Hill PDC World Darts Championship have had at least Covid one jab and everyone has to provide a negative test before playing next.

There is a testing facility on site at Ally Pally and mask wearing is in force for staff and officials backstage.

At present, the PDC can facilitate up to 3,300 fans per sessions until the final on Monday January 3.

But darts bosses are ready to switch the event behind closed doors – like they did last Christmas – if government guidance suddenly changes over the Festive period.

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