Welsh government signals return of sports fans – BBC News

Wales' most recent match at the Principality Stadium in front of crowds was their Six Nations loss to France in February 2020
Wales’ most recent match at the Principality Stadium in front of a crowd was their Six Nations loss to France in February 2020

The Welsh government says crowds of up to 10,000 will be allowed back at sporting stadiums from Monday, 7 June.

Large outdoor events such as sports matches and organised runs can go ahead for up to 4,000 people when not seated, and 10,000 when seated.

Parkrun events and other organised running groups could also resume.

Wales’ men’s rugby team host Canada on 3 July at the Principality Stadium followed by successive Tests against Argentina on 10 and 17 July.

The Welsh government said all organisers planning events and activities must complete a risk assessment and also put in place measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, including social distancing.

So while the 10,000 figure has been stated, the number of spectators in most venues is going to be lower because of Covid-19 rules.

The five-figure crowd will probably only apply to the 74,000 capacity at the Principality Stadium.

First Minister Mark Drakeford was asked on BBC Radio Wales whether the policy means 10,000 fans could be in attendance for Wales’ rugby summer internationals.

“Yes it does,” he said. “Just being clear though, that is the maximum number.

“Every venue will have to carry out a risk assessment and then fix the maximum number it can accommodate because sporting events vary enormously in size and scale.

“Just as in the pilot evets and across the border at Wembley, the fact there is a maximum number does not mean that every venue will be able to reach that maximum. There will have to be an individual risk assessment for each venue.”

The Welsh Rugby Union are currently exploring whether they can reach the 10,000 mark.

A WRU statement said: ”We welcome the latest announcement from Welsh government and look forward to welcoming fans back to the Principality Stadium this summer.

“Once we have further clarity on the protocols and procedures required under these latest guidelines, we will publish detailed information regarding the ticketing process and attendance protocols for our forthcoming games shortly.”

Glamorgan’s Sophia Gardens home will host a one-day cricket international between England and Pakistan on 8 July, while the Welsh county stage their opening T20 Blast match on 10 June against Gloucestershire.

The new Hundred tournament starts in late July with Cardiff hosting matches for the Welsh Fire men’s and women’s teams.

Glamorgan are currently looking at a maximum crowd of 2,892.

A Glamorgan statement said: “We have prepared and submitted proposals for a phased return of fans to Sophia Gardens from next week and look forward to providing more information as soon as the necessary approvals have been confirmed.”

The Under-20s Six Nations rugby tournament is being hosted in Wales between 19 June and 13 July with five matchdays at Cardiff Arms Park.

In regional rugby, Cardiff Blues’ home match on 5 June against Zebre will be played behind closed doors.

Ospreys host Benetton on 12 June in the Pro14 Rainbow Cup but the region have said there will be no spectators at the game.

No fans T20 game
Glamorgan’s Sophia Gardens ground was one of the venues chosen to stage pilot events for crowds in Wales

The fixture has been switched to Bridgend’s Brewery Field from the Liberty Stadium with the Swansea venue being prepared for next season.

An Ospreys statement said: “We can confirm there will be no spectators allowed to attend the forthcoming Guinness PRO14 Rainbow Cup fixture with Benetton Rugby at the Brewery Field.

“We welcome the announcement by the Welsh Government to allow crowds back to sporting events, but due to timing, safety and logistical issues it is unfortunately prohibitive for us to cater for supporters at Bridgend.

“The Ospreys understand there will be disappointment among supporters about being unable to support the team next weekend, but we thank them for their continued support and their safety is our paramount concern.

“We will be working with the Welsh Rugby Union, other Welsh regions, Swansea City and Cardiff City to learn lessons from the current Test events and intend to provide the best spectator experience possible for next season.

“We look forward to welcoming all Ospreys supporters back to the Liberty Stadium next season.”

Scarlets have confirmed they will host a limited number of fans, who must be season ticket holdersexternal-link when they face Edinburgh for their final Pro14 Rainbow Cup game in Llanelli on 13 June.

The west Wales region stated: “We would like to thank everyone for their incredible support throughout this most testing of seasons and we are delighted to finally be able to welcome our loyal fans safely back into the stadium.”

Two days later Parc y Scarlets is also the venue for Wales women’s football friendly against Scotland.

Cardiff City, Swansea City, Newport and Wrexham have finished their league seasons while the news of crowds has also come too late for the Cymru Premier domestic campaign.

There will be European qualifiers in July for Connah’s Quay Nomads, The New Saints, Bala Town and Newtown.

A Football Association of Wales (FAW) statement read: “The FAW awaits further information and formal guidance on these developments from Welsh Government, which are anticipated to be available next week.”

Chepstow racecourse has four meetings scheduled in June which are currently due to be held behind closed doors.

The first race meeting after attendance rules are relaxed is due to be held at Chepstow on Friday 11 June where the Welsh racecourse will be permitted to welcome up to 4,000 spectators.

Welsh Athletics chief executive James Williams tweeted: “Incredibly positive news for the Welsh Athletics RunWales community, we will provide further details once guidance has been read in full. Fingers crossed this will see running events return very soon in Wales.”

There have been a series of pilot tests events which included Swansea and Newport County’s play-off home semi-final matches in May, with 3,000 and 900 fans allowed at Liberty Stadium and Rodney Parade respectively.

Up to 1,000 supporters were allowed at the opening day of Glamorgan’s county championship match against Lancashire on 3 June.

Wales football fans are to return on Saturday, when 6,500 spectators will watch Robert Page’s side at the Cardiff City Stadium as they take on Albania in the final warm-up match before Euro 2020.

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