This year's European Universities Games have been postponed ©EUSA

This year's European Universities Games in Belgrade have been postponed indefinitely because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

The European University Sports Association (EUSA) has announced the Games in the Serbian capital will not take place as planned from July 14 to 27.

In a statement, the organisation said it was hoping to organise the multi-sport event before the end of the year.

It said the Games, postponed from last year because of the COVID-19 crisis, "cannot safely" be held in their scheduled slot.

Coronavirus cases have risen across Europe in recent weeks, with Serbia among the countries affected.

Serbia has reported more than 570,000 infections and at least 5,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.

"Although the decision to postpone the Games to 2021 was taken a year ago, we were convinced that the overall pandemic situation would allow us to conduct a safe Games," the EUSA said.

"Today it seems that neither pending vaccination nor lockdowns and other efforts of the Governments have brought the expected results, yet we firmly believe that with time, the situation will improve and the Games can be organised in a safe and successful manner.

"With the safety and wellbeing of the participants and the hosting country citizens as our priority, we acknowledge the decision not to have the Games in Belgrade in July this year is in the best interests of all concerned."

The announcement comes just weeks after the EUSA informed its members of the COVID-19 protocols that were set to be in place at the Games.

A total of 21 sports are due to be on the programme for the Games.

These are badminton, basketball, 3x3 basketball, beach handball, beach volleyball, chess, football, futsal, handball, judo, karate, kickboxing, orienteering, rowing, rugby sevens, table tennis, taekwondo, volleyball and water polo.

Para-table tennis is also on the programme, as is sitting volleyball as a demonstration sport.

"We recognise the support received from the Prime Minister of the Government of Serbia Ms Ana Brnabic and the entire Government, and we thank them for the cooperation and engagement in the years preparing for the event," the EUSA added.

"We also appreciate all the efforts made by the Organising Committee, dedication of the leaders, employees and contribution of the partners, and we sincerely hope to find a solution to maintain our cooperation and to find a way that the Games may be held in Belgrade at a later date.

"The EUSA will now do a consultation with our members, organisers of our events and their authorities to explore the possibilities to organise the Games at a later stage this year."