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World Health Organization says large crowds for sporting events are unrealistic this year

World Health Organization says large crowds for sporting events are unrealistic this year
August 6, 2020

The World Health Organization has today advised that it will be “unrealistic” to expect large numbers of spectators to be able to attend sports events this year in countries still affected by “community-level transmission” of Coronavirus.

Speaking in a live online discussion, WHO Emergencies Director Michael Ryan said it could be “disastrous” to allow the return of sports with tens of thousands of people attending.

AFP reported that Ryan explained “large crowds of 40, 50, 60,000 people – it’s not just the risk of being in the stadium, it’s the risk of going to the stadium ... where thousands of people go on the same public transport to a venue, get involved in the social aspects before a game, be involved in the game and then all of the social aspects after.

"In the context of community transmission, that could be disastrous.”

While numerous sporting events around the world because of Coronavirus have been postponed or cancelled, of which the Tokyo Olympic Games has been the most high profile, Ryan did not address limited numbers of fans having been allowed back into sports events in several countries under strict anti-virus guidelines.

Baseball and football leagues in both Japan and South Korea have reopened stadiums to fans while in Australia, restricted numbers have been allowed into venues for sporting competitions.

In addition, having been successful in containing Coronavirus outbreaks, New Zealand lifted restrictions on supporters attending Super Rugby Aotearoa games as of late June.

Ryan added "we may have to expect that as things open up, we go from having no-one at the games to maybe 1,000 and 2,000. We all want our sport back. We’re just going to have to be careful for a good bit longer.

“It’s very unrealistic in countries with community transmission that we’re going to be seeing large gatherings like that this year. Right now, it’s hard to see those fully reopened venues.”

Image: Fans watch the resumption of AFL at Perth's Optus Stadium.

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13th July 2020 - Optus Stadium prepares for AFL fixtures this week

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5th June 2020 - NSW Government to allow corporate boxes to operate at NRL fixtures from next week

5th June 2020 - Eden Park Chief Executive ‘thrilled’ at prospect of again welcoming fans to watch live sport

26th May 2020 - NRL’s goal to have crowds in stadiums in July described as ‘absurd and dangerous’ by Australian Medical Association

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20th May 2020 - Global sports sponsorship market predicted to fall by 37% this year

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31st January 2020 - Coronavirus declared global health emergency by World Health Organization

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13th October 2015 - Sport included in United Nations development goals


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