Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s expected announcement delaying the final stage of easing coronavirus restrictions is likely to have a significant knock-on effect for sports fans.
On Monday, the Prime Minister is likely to put on hold for four weeks plans for the lifting of controls – slated for June 21 – amid a surge in cases of the Delta variant of Covid-19 first identified in India.
That will directly impact Wembley’s hosting of the Euro 2020 semi-final and final, Wimbledon and other major events like Formula 1’s British Grand Prix and golf’s Open Championship.
Gareth Southgate’s side opened up their campaign with a 1-0 victory over Croatia, watched by 22,500 supporters who gained entry with proof of a full Covid-19 vaccination or a negative lateral-flow test taken within 48 hours of the match.
The Football Association (FA) and UEFA had hoped to increase Wembley’s 25 per cent capacity for England’s group games and two last-16 matches – which are part of the Government’s events research programme, which is looking at various methods of reducing or minimising social distancing at games staged at the national stadium – to a potential 45,000 for the semi-final and final.
However, that now appears unlikely to happen with restrictions set to be kept in place until after the tournament, which ends on July 11.
Organisers of Wimbledon have been awaiting the Government’s decision on whether to take step four of the coronavirus road map to provide more clarity on how attendance at sporting events will be handled.
However, it now seems certain the championships, which run for a fortnight from June 28, will also have to operate at a reduced capacity.
Other events like the British Grand Prix at Silverstone and the Open at Royal St George’s, both of which take place before the next proposed decision date, will also be affected.
Only late last month R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers expressed his optimism the Open, which did not take place last summer because of the pandemic, would be played in front of a 75 per cent capacity crowd, but he was also preparing for only 25 per cent attendance.