British sports bodies ‘see the benefits’ of vaccine passports

The BBC has reported that a group of elite-level British sporting bodies have backed the use of vaccine passports as a possible measure for supporting the return of spectators to stadiums.

In a letter addressed to the leaders of the major political parties, the FA, Premier League, English Football League (EFL), England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and Rugby Football League (RFL), among others, said that they ‘see the benefits’ of the solution.

The bodies further described vaccine passports as a ‘credible’ solution to ‘getting more fans safely back as quickly as possible,’ but also underscored that such measures ‘must not be must not be discriminatory, should protect privacy, and have clear exit criteria.’

Under the UK government’s current roadmap for the easing of national lockdown restrictions, large outdoor sports venues will be allowed to accommodate at up to 25% capacity from 17 May, with a maximum of 10,000 in attendance, whilst measures will further loosen on 21 June.

In Scotland, large scale events could also resume on 17 May, with the Euro 2020 fixtures at Hampden Park set to host up to 13,000 fans, whilst up to 20,000 may be able to attend the FA Cup Final on 15 May.

Restrictions in Wales will be significantly stricter than in England and Scotland, with a series cultural and sporting events planned at outdoor venues during the summer, with attendance varying between 200 and 1,000.

Social distancing measures will continue to be enforced at all UK fixtures, although this may not be the case at the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, which organisers hope will operate at 75% capacity for the semi-finals and full capacity for the final, although extensive coronavirus testing will occur at all events.

Vaccine passports have also been endorsed by EFL Chairman Trevor Birch, who commented: “Without COVID certification, we may not be able to get full fans back in stadiums, which will have a dramatic financial effect.”

However, although supportive of the planned roadmap, the sporting bodies also noted that the 25% capacity limit ‘will be insufficient to end sport’s COVID financial crisis’.

In the letter, which was also signed by the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA), All England Tennis Club at Wimbledon and the Silverstone motor-racing circuit, the group said appealed for ‘certainty as soon as possible’ in order to ‘plan efficiently and effectively with many big sporting events scheduled for late June and onwards’.

Regarding vaccine certification, the group added: “There are many issues to be addressed including how technology would work and its ease of use at major events, for both the attendees and the organisers.”

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