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Some sporting events exempt from capacity limits despite easing delay

Some sporting events exempt from capacity limits despite easing delay
© Reuters
The final part of the Government's unlocking had been due to take place on June 21.

Some major events of the English sporting summer are set to be exempt from strict capacity limits despite the Government's decision to delay the easing of all remaining coronavirus restrictions.

Sports venues across England had been hoping to open their doors to spectators in financially viable numbers from next Monday, June 21, but a decision has been taken to delay the final step on the Covid recovery road map for at least four weeks due to a rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of the virus.

However, the PA news agency understands that between 10 and 15 sporting and cultural events over the next four weeks are set to be included in the Government's extended Events Research Programme (ERP) and therefore be exempt from the strict capacity limits which came into force at step three of the road map on May 17.

England fans at the team's opening Euro 2020 match against Croatia on Sunday
England fans at the team's opening Euro 2020 match against Croatia on Sunday (Nick Potts/PA)

England's group games at Euro 2020 had already been granted ERP status and will continue to be played in front of crowds of 22,500 – 25 per cent of capacity at Wembley – and it is understood the hope is to go up to at least 50 per cent capacity for one of the last-16 matches at Wembley, plus the semi-finals and final.

The extended ERP will cover a mixture of events and operate up to full capacity in some cases, though whether that is permitted for the Euro 2020 final on July 11 remains to be seen.

The All England Championships at Wimbledon, which start on June 28, and Formula One's British Grand Prix over the weekend of July 16-18 are two of the other major sporting events understood to be under consideration for test event status.

For those events which are not part of the ERP, the rules will remain as they have since May 17, and stay in place until July 19 at the earliest.

Lewis Hamilton supporters pictured at the 2019 British Grand Prix at Silverstone
Lewis Hamilton supporters pictured at the 2019 British Grand Prix at Silverstone (PA)

For outdoor venues with a seated capacity of 16,000 or above, the limit is 10,000 or 25 per cent of capacity, whichever is lowest.

For outdoor venues with less seating than that, the limit is 4,000 or 50 per cent of capacity, whichever is lowest. For indoor venues, the limit is 1,000 or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is lowest.

That will place further pressure on matchday revenue for many sports clubs and governing bodies, an income stream which has been virtually non-existent during the coronavirus pandemic and something the Government has recognised in its winter and summer sport survival packages.

While the step three restrictions rely purely on social distancing, test events are set to continue to look at other mitigations.

The Euro 2020 group games, for instance, require ticket holders to provide proof of full vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 test result.

A number of sporting bodies have supported the idea of some form of Covid certification for entry to events, with Premier League executive director Bill Bush describing it in the past as an "acceptable burden" and saying that the alternative would be tiny crowds and a ban on away fans.

Its chief executive Richard Masters hopes the 2021-22 Premier League season will kick off in front of full capacity venues in mid-August.

Wimbledon will announce spectator capacity and Covid protocols for the Championships on Wednesday.

A statement from organisers ahead of the tournament, which begins on June 28, read: "We are continuing to work with the Government and public health authorities on the final scenario for the event.

"On Wednesday, June 16, the AELTC will provide an update on the final decisions for this year, including ticketing capacities, any spectator requirements such as Covid-status certification, and prize money, with tickets likely to go on sale in the following days."

Silverstone bosses have staged preliminary talks with the Government over an exemption to host next month's British Grand Prix in front of a capacity 140,000 crowd.

An exemption for the Formula One race is being discussed which would allow substantially greater numbers than the 10,000 spectators currently permitted.

Organisers of The Open also expect to be able to finalise fan numbers shortly.

"We would like to reassure fans that we will shortly be able to confirm our arrangements for The 149th Open being held at Royal St George's from 11-18 July," read a statement from the R&A.

"We are in active discussions with the UK Government and public health authorities regarding capacity levels for the championship and hope to provide a definitive update for all ticket holders and hospitality guests in the next few days. We would like to thank all fans for their patience and support."

Rugby League's Challenge Cup final on July 17 could also be among the pilot events, with the Rugby Football League also in talks with the Government.

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina23141350
United StatesUnited States20231659
JapanJapan175931
AustraliaAustralia1431431
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia12191344
Great BritainGreat Britain10101232
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events


GOLF
· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

CYCLING - BMX
· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

SWIMMING
· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

TENNIS
· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

SAILING
· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
EFL Cup
Scottish Premiership
Pre-Season Friendlies
Trophee des Champions
Taca da Liga
Belgian Pro League
Swiss Super League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Swedish Allsvenskan
Danish Superliga
Belarusian Premier League
2.Bundesliga
Major League Soccer
Brasileiro
Copa Diego Maradona
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
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