MX23RW : Thursday, July 29 07:00:45| >> :600:3885118:3885118:

Sports fans anxiously wait for news over coronavirus restrictions

Sports fans anxiously wait for news over coronavirus restrictions
© Reuters
Boris Johnson looks set to delay the lifting of controls, which had been slated for June 21.

The Prime Minister's expected announcement delaying the final stage of easing of coronavirus restrictions is likely to have a significant knock-on effect for sports fans.

Boris Johnson is on Monday 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 One's British Grand Prix and golf's Open Championship.

England v Croatia – UEFA Euro 2020 – Group D – Wembley Stadium
There were 22,500 spectators in attendance for England's Euro 2020 opener at Wembley (Nick Potts/PA)

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 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 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.

Tennis – Wimbledon Championships 2008 – Day One – The All England Club
Wimbledon waits to discover how many fans will be able to attend this year's tournament (Sean Dempsey/PA)

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.

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
JapanJapan124521
ChinaChina115824
United StatesUnited States1011930
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia78520
AustraliaAustralia61916
Great BritainGreat Britain56516
Today's Olympic highlights header

Thursday's key events


ROWING
· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

HOCKEY
· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

CANOE SLALOM
· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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