Corona crisis: no spectators until the end of October

Berlin (dpa) – No spectators until at least the end of October and tighter corona rules for those returning from risk areas: There was no good news from the political summit with Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Prime Minister of the Bundesliga and German top sport.

Due to the tense pandemic situation in Germany, the Bundesliga season will certainly start in mid-September without a large audience. “Corona is back in full force in Germany, so we have to face this situation,” said Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder after the more than five-hour meeting in Berlin. It “makes no sense to start with spectators in September. It would send the wrong signal with an increasing number of infections.”

Merkel and the state leaders therefore agreed at the video conference that a working group at the level of the heads of the state chancellery should develop a proposal over the next two months to engage with fans at national sporting events. In any case, CSU boss Söder held out the prospect that the working group could agree on “small, step-by-step options”, “before Christmas”.

Major events where contact tracking and hygiene regulations are not possible should at least take place until the end of December 2020.

In addition to football clubs from the Bundesliga to the regional league, the restrictions also affect the top clubs in handball, basketball and ice hockey, as well as other sports that rely heavily on public income. The Bundesliga season in handball starts on October 1, the basketball players and skate cracks in the German ice hockey league want to start the 2020/21 season in November – each with spectators.

The extent to which at least a few hundred fans will be admitted before October 31 was initially open. The restrictions on participants in such events currently vary greatly across the states.

But professional football is threatened with another problem of possibly even greater magnitude. From October 1, travelers returning from high-risk areas should be able to end a corona quarantine at the earliest with a test from the fifth day after entering Germany. This could have a huge impact on Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2 gaming activities, as the clubs supply numerous domestic and foreign national players for international matches.

As things stand, the DFB squad, which plays in Ukraine on October 10, would also be affected. Ukraine is one of the many countries that the Robert Koch Institute has currently identified as a risk area. In the rest of the season, games in the Champions League and Europa League could take place in risk areas, which would then have consequences for the Bundesliga clubs.

When it comes to fans, there are initially no exception rules, even in regions with a very low number of infections, as was still considered in the resolution proposal. This would have resulted in a patchwork quilt. While clubs from regions with a high rate of infections should have continued to play in front of empty stands, clubs from areas with only a few corona diseases might have been able to play to a larger audience.

The industry’s hopes for some bit of normalcy are initially not fulfilled, although there is certainly prominent support for plans to return fans. Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer spoke out for the admission of at least a limited number of spectators into the Bundesliga stadiums. “The population does not understand when many people are allowed to drive in a small space in local transport, but a football match with few spectators and long distances should not be possible,” said the CSU politician of the Augsburger Allgemeine.

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