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Belarus is the only European country that is still playing soccer. Why? Because President Alexander Lukashenko, a man often referred to as "Europe's last dictator," said so.

Geography lesson: Belarus is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe bordered by Russia to the east, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest.

History lesson: Belarus was part of the Soviet Union until it was dissolved in 1991. Lukashenko has been president since 1994 and has continued many Soviet-era policies.

What he's saying: The coronavirus "is just another psychosis, which will benefit some people and harm others," Lukashenko said last week. "The civilized world is going nuts. It is absolute stupidity to close state borders."

  • Instead of panicking "like those in Western Europe," he suggested having 40–50 grams of vodka daily and frequenting saunas. He also told farmers to keep working, as "tough work and a tractor can cure anything."

The state of play: The 2020 Belarusian Premier League season began March 19 as planned and games are scheduled to be played this weekend.

  • The league is benefiting financially, with TV networks in Russia and Ukraine acquiring the broadcast rights, the first time anyone from outside Belarus has done so.
Fans watch a match between FC Slutsk and Slavia Mazyr last weekend. Photo: Natalia Fedosenko/TASS via Getty Images

Between the lines: Some players are concerned about their health, but the lack of confirmed coronavirus cases in Belarus (86 in a country of 10 million) appears to have kept fears at a minimum.

  • "There is no panic in the team, but surely all of us hear and see what's happening in the world and it does get in our heads," one player told ESPN.
  • "It is indeed a nice feeling that the whole world is watching. ... I'm happy to be playing while most of my colleagues around the world are killing time sitting at home."

Elsewhere ... Soccer is also still being played in Central America (Nicaragua), Africa (Burundi) and Asia (Turkmenistan and Myanmar).

Go deeper: Coronavirus disrupts sporting events around the world

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: The good and bad news about antibody therapies — Fauci: Hotspots have materialized across "the entire country."
  2. World: Belgium imposes lockdown, citing "health emergency" due to influx of cases.
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Education: Surge threatens to shut classrooms down again.
  5. Technology: The pandemic isn't slowing tech.
  6. Travel: CDC replaces COVID-19 cruise ban with less restrictive "conditional sailing order."
  7. Sports: High school football's pandemic struggles.
  8. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated 4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Dunkin' Brands agrees to $11B Inspire Brands sale

Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Dunkin' Brands, operator of both Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins, agreed on Friday to be taken private for nearly $11.3 billion, including debt, by Inspire Brands, a restaurant platform sponsored by private equity firm Roark Capital.

Why it matters: Buying Dunkin’ will more than double Inspire’s footprint, making it one of the biggest restaurant deals in the past 10 years. This could ultimately set up an IPO for Inspire, which already owns Arby's, Jimmy John's and Buffalo Wild Wings.

Ina Fried, author of Login
6 hours ago - Technology

Federal judge halts Trump administration limit on TikTok

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A federal judge on Friday issued an injunction preventing the Trump administration from imposing limits on the distribution of TikTok, Bloomberg reports. The injunction request came as part of a suit brought by creators who make a living on the video service.

Why it matters: The administration has been seeking to force a sale of, or block, the Chinese-owned service. It also moved to ban the service from operating in the U.S. as of Nov. 12, a move which was put on hold by Friday's injunction.