NIKOS LAZANIS, Asst. Sports Editor—Covid-19 has undoubtedly impacted every area of communal life for people around the globe. Although this wasn’t initially an urgent question, the issue of fans attending sporting events is one that is concerning for sports team and the government alike.
A packed stadium could be extremely dangerous in terms of spreading the virus, as was proven by the Atalanta vs Valencia champions league fixture on March 10th of 2020, where more than 1000 people in attendance tested positive as a result of the game.
However, professional sports organizations have been concerned due to the amount of money lost as a result of locked stadiums, with a lot of smaller soccer teams especially, facing financial hardship. At the same time, it’s also unfortunate for athletes to be competing without an audience for such an extended period of time.
The US has been slow to let spectators return to sports, and that’s understandable due to the circumstances. However, a lot of European clubs from a variety of sports are starting to get a significant amount of fan attendance again. The Italian Soccer Federation is aiming to allow fans back into stadiums by the end of May, while the Premier League is planning to have up to 10000 fans per stadium by the time the league reaches its finale for this season.
At the same time, as the UK will be hosting Euro 2021 matches, they are working on pilot events in order to test the measures that will need to be applied. Although these are positive news, in the Bundesliga the German soccer league, fans were allowed to return earlier in the year, however that had to be overturned due to an increase in Covid cases throughout the country.
Generally, however, European fans are relatively close to return to stadiums in relatively high attendance, with Russia specifically taking the lead. Zenit St. Petersburg basketball club will have a 75% stadium capacity for their remaining games of the season. Although said mainly as a cliché, the statement that fans are the soul of their respective teams often rings true.
As a consequence, these positive news from Europe in combination to seeing the NCAA March Madness tournament played with almost no spectators make it hard not to pose the question,
When will US sports return to normal? For the sake of the teams, the players and of course the fans, the answer is hopefully soon.