Angela Merkel and the German government have approved the return of the Bundesliga in the coming weeks. Kay Nietfeld/EPA.

The Bundesliga remains on track to be the first major European league to resume its football calendar as early as May 16 following a ruling by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

All fixtures are to be played behind closed doors, but Merkel told reporters on Wednesday that matches can return following a 14-day quarantine period by all clubs, via Matt Davies of the Evening Standard.

It was previously hoped games would be able to resume on May 9, but a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases led the German government to delay any definite decision. BBC Sport reported the German Football League (DFL) will confirm a restart date on Thursday, expected to be either May 16 or 23. The league aims to finish the Bundesliga season by end of June.

DFL chief executive Christian Seifert said playing games without fans in attendance was “not an ideal situation,” though he acknowledged some clubs’ futures have been threatened by the lockdown (h/t commentator Derek Rae):

Germany has been widely praised for its strong response to the coronavirus and appears to have benefited greatly from its robust testing policy.

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge published a statement on Wednesday thanking politicians, medical professionals and the DFL for creating a plan that should see the Bundesliga campaign get back underway this month.

However, commentator Kevin Hatchard warned of the possibility of another outbreak later down the line:

It was reported on Tuesday that teams from the first and second divisions of German football returned 10 coronavirus-positive tests from a total 1,724 coronavirus tests administered.

Germany has had a low mortality rate in comparison with other European countries and recorded around 7,000 coronavirus-related deaths.

Bayern lead the Bundesliga by four points with nine games remaining in their calendar, though Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach remain in hot pursuit.