UK Sports Bodies Outline Strategy for Full-Capacity Crowds
The leading sports bodies in the UK are requesting Covid-19 testing and “vaccine passport” measures to come into full effect, allowing crowds back to the stadiums.
The group, which includes the Football Association, the Premier League, the Rugby Football Union, the All England Tennis Club at Wimbledon, Silverstone, and the England and Wales Cricket Board, sent a joint letter to all major political parties. In the letter, the representatives of said associations explain how to safely and quickly bring the sports fans back.
“We know that our stadium can only be fully filled with an assurance process. This process must ensure that everyone can access stadia and must include arrangements that would verify a negative Covid test or an antibody test or vaccination certification,” the group wrote, emphasising that the solution must not discriminate against sports fans in the process and have clear exit criteria while respecting the fans’ privacy.
Ever since the start of the pandemic, sports organisations have been in a tight spot. Sports events have had to be staged without a crowd, significantly reducing sports clubs and venues’ income. The current government-laid plan is to start opening venues at 25% of maximum capacity. This is set to begin on 17 May across England but only for larger outdoor arenas and at the upper limit of 10,000 spectators. The roadmap states 21 June as a day when this restriction will get eased even further. On the other hand, many adult citizens won’t even get their first Covid shot by that time. Therefore, it is more likely that the government will delay lifting this restriction further into the summer.
As for the rest of the country, restrictions will significantly vary in the upcoming months. Euro 2020 is still on track for July at Wembley but at 50% of maximum capacity. Scottish stadia will be limited to 12,000 spectators, while the Welsh government limits all outdoor events to 1,000 people. Sports fans in Northern Ireland are still in the dark, unfortunately. The lockdown remains in effect until 15 April, when a review is set to take place, detailing further plans for sports events.
Many officials strongly believe “Covid passports” need to be embraced for the country’s sports sector to get back on its feet properly. The fans are eager to return to sports arenas, and it’s just a matter of time and preparation until this becomes possible.