France can take part in the Six Nations rugby tournament as planned amid stricter coronavirus rules, French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu says.
The government gave its go-ahead after the French Rugby Federation proposed rigorous safety protocols to the country’s health authorities, Maracineanu told French television.
France closed its borders on Sunday to all non-essential travel from outside the European Union, and was especially wary of the UK, which has been hit by a new, more infectious variant of the virus.
Although quarantine rules will be eased to facilitate the rugby team’s travels, Maracineanu said players will be kept in a “sanitary bubble” and take COVID-19 tests every three days.
France has also agreed to use the same squad of 31 players for the entire championship, with the only exception being to replace an injured player.
The Six Nations competition between England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales starts on Saturday.
France was second in the tournament last year on points difference, and its first two matches are away in Italy on February 6 and Ireland the following weekend.
Then France welcomes Scotland, goes to England, and hosts Wales.