British sport backs use of Covid passports in order to get stadiums full quickly after lockdown

Jack Rosser
·3-min read
<p></p> (Manchester United via Getty Imag)
(Manchester United via Getty Imag)

Major governing bodies from across British sport have backed the government's use of Covid passports in order to fill stands as quickly as possible.

Nine governing bodies, including the FA, Premier League and the organisers of Wimbledon, have penned an open letter to government and the opposition party leaders supporting the temporary measure as a way to ensure social distancing measures can be lifted after June 21.

Up to 10,000 fans will be allowed into venues for live sport from May 17 - which includes the final two gameweeks of the Premier League season - but the letter says this is insufficient to end "sport's Covid financial crisis".

Current government plans mean those looking to attend sport, theatres, nightclubs or festivals will be required to display a proof that they have either had the vaccine, a negative test for coronavirus or have developed anti-bodies from a previous infection.

The letter reads: "We welcome the Government’s commitment to securing a return of spectators to sporting events and the support all political parties and the devolved administrations have shown to returning sport at all levels throughout the pandemic.

"This week’s announcement by the Prime Minister that the Government’s roadmap for easing the lockdown restrictions remains on course is very welcome news.

"Sporting events can continue to plan for the return of small numbers of spectators from 17 May. At this stage of the process all spectators will need to follow social distancing requirements and attendance will be capped at a maximum of 25% of larger venue’s capacity. However this will still be insufficient to end sport’s Covid financial crisis.

"Looking ahead to June 21, we support the Government’s ambition to secure the full return of fans, without restrictions if possible. Of necessity, this will depend upon the Government agreeing that it is safe to lessen or drop social distancing requirements.

"It is important that we have certainty as soon as possible on the form this guidance will take so we can plan efficiently and effectively with many big sporting events scheduled for late June and onwards.

"The return of fans will give a huge boost to millions who enjoy a day out at a sporting event with their friends and families and be of great benefit to the economy. It is right that every possible action is considered to secure this outcome as soon as possible, but only for as long as an unrestricted return is considered unsafe to fans, matchday staff and the wider public.

"This includes investigating how a Covid certification arrangement could reduce and then safely remove the requirement for social distancing.

"There are many issues to be addressed including how the technology would work and its ease of use at major events, for both the attendees and the organisers.

"All of our sports can see the benefit that a Covid certification process offers in getting more fans safely back to their sport as quickly as possible. We know that our stadia 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 anti-body test alongside vaccination certification.

"The final approach must not be discriminatory, should protect privacy, and have clear exit criteria.

"We also reiterate that certification should not be a requirement for any form of participation in grassroots sport around the country."

The letter was signed by The All England Lawn Tennis Club, which hosts Wimbledon, the EFL, ECB, FA, Premier League, RFL, RFU, SPFL and Silverstone.

Premier League players have been using similar "health passports", provided by testing company Prenetics, in order to enter the "red zone" on matchdays.

A number of test events are set to be held before stadia are opened to fans across the country once more, with Southampton and Leicester's FA Cup semi-final open to 4,000 local residents while 8,000 will be in attendance for the Carabao Cup when Tottenham and Manchester City face one another.

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