ETHAN Rose has revealed his relief at returning home from Europe just before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

The young badminton star was knocked out of the Under 19 Italian International Junior Challenger in Milan on February 22 – the day of the country’s first virus-related death.

Since then, Italy has become the world’s worst-affected country, with almost 70,000 confirmed cases and more than 6,800 deaths.

Rose, from Oakley, went on to play at the Slovak Open the following weekend and was due to compete in Germany and the Czech Republic during the next fortnight.

The 17-year-old, whose grandmother was among the travelling group, opted to travel back to the UK after leaving Slovakia, but admitted he was surprised at how quickly the situation developed.

He said: “It was a personal decision to go home and be on the safe side.

“When we were in Italy it wasn’t really noticeable, as there were only three confirmed cases.

“There were still lots of people walking the streets and cars on the road.

“It wasn’t really being talked about much. Nobody was acting any differently.

“It was when we were in Slovakia that cases started to rise in Italy.”

The tournament in Milan was cancelled on February 23, the day it was due to finish.

Swathes of events across the world have followed suit in recent weeks, with virtually all sport in the UK now on hold.

The All England Open in Birmingham from March 11-15 was one of the last competitions standing, but halfway through the tournament the Badminton World Federation (BWF) halted all other events from March 16 onwards.

The BWF said it accepted Badminton England’s position ‘that the robust and comprehensive measures in place before and during the event will minimise the potential risk of the virus’.

Rose believes starting the tournament was best for all parties, but felt it was right to suspend proceedings from that moment on.

“I think it was the right decision as initially it seemed fine, then everything started to snowball,” he said.

“It’s obviously disappointing not to play, because you train so you can play tournaments.

“But health is definitely the priority.

“It’s not just my family’s, but everybody’s.

“I think it’s in everyone’s best interest that sporting events are cancelled.

“I’ve been fortunate enough that nobody in my circle has been affected and hopefully it stays that