The World Health Organization stated that it is concerned about the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in countries hosting Euro 2020 matches, noting that some cases are already increasing.
Rob Butler, Executive Director of the WHO Regional Office for Europe, said in an email statement to AFP: “WHO is concerned about easing restrictions in some host countries.”
“Some stadiums that host games are now increasing the number of spectators allowed,” Butler said.
The United Nations health agency has not singled out any cities, but the UK announced on Tuesday that London’s Wembley Stadium will allow more than 60,000 spectators to watch the semifinals and finals of the game. Initially, its purpose was to limit the population to 40,000, which is about 50% of the capacity.
The new level means that the capacity of the stadium in the last three games will reach 75%, and the last three games will end on July 11.
All ticket holders are required to have a negative test for COVID-19 or a certificate of full vaccination-two doses of the vaccine 14 days before the start of the game.
Germany, Italy raise concerns
The announcement was made after Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi called for the finals to be removed from England because of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Out of safety concerns about the spread of the virus in London, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged UEFA to act responsibly on the plan to hold the final in London.
The EU’s top legislator on health issues responded to the Prime Minister’s comments.
“Our health is a top priority. The spread of Delta variants prevented 40,000 spectators from watching the final game at the London Stadium,” said Peter Liese.
UEFA stated that it “has no plans” to change the venue for the semifinals and finals.
A UEFA spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters: “UEFA, the FA and the British authorities are working closely together to successfully host the semi-finals and finals of the European Cup at Wembley, and this has not changed. Plans for the playing field.” News Agency Tuesday.
UEFA has also been negotiating with the British government to relax travel restrictions related to the virus to allow up to 2,500 VIPs to participate in the finals.
The number of COVID infections on the rise
WHO’s Butler said that in some “host cities, the number of COVID-19 cases in the areas where the competition is held has been on the rise.”
In areas where the infection rate is rising, WHO Europe calls on the cities concerned to act quickly.
“Learning from experience, we must act quickly on the signs of an increase in cases.
“Expand testing and sequencing; strengthen contact tracing; and quickly establish very high vaccination rates among those vulnerable and most at risk,” he added.
In Denmark, 29 cases related to the Euro 2020 tournament in Copenhagen have been discovered.
Health Officer Anette Lykke Petri said the reported infection involved people who had become ill during the game or were infected during the game.
“In theory, more people may be infected,” she added.
In Denmark, the permitted audience capacity has also recently increased from 16,000 to 25,000. The higher number was first applied to the match between Denmark and Belgium last Thursday.
In Budapest, the Puskas Arena, which can accommodate 68,000 people, has filled the stadium.
UEFA also disqualified the cities of Dublin and Bilbao to host matches because the allowed capacity was too low.
Among the host cities, especially St. Petersburg, Russia, the number of reported cases has increased in recent days.
At the same time, the trends in Seville and Rome, Spain, have been declining, and the Italian authorities have assured that no cases of COVID-19 related to the match have been found.
Although the situation in Europe has improved in the past two months, the WHO still urges continued caution.
Hans Kluge, WHO’s regional director for Europe, warned in early June: “Although we have come a long way, it’s not enough.”
He said that the use of vaccines is still too low to protect the area from resurgence.