AP PHOTOS: British sports fans making up for lost time

Few countries have elevated the role of sport in society as much as Britain, so the lack of crowds during the pandemic has been a constant reminder of the heavy toll of the coronavirus

On Tuesday, more than 40,000 fans were at Wembley Stadium to watch England beat Germany 2-0 in the round of 16 of the European Championship. And they certainly made their voices heard after Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane’s goal and singing a passionate rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” after the game.

More than 60,000 spectators will be at the North London Stadium for the semi-finals on July 6-7 and the final on July 11 as part of the government’s Events Research Program on Holding Mass Events in All. security. All ticket holders must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of two doses of the vaccine.

Although football is clearly the No. 1 sport in much of Britain – for Wales it will always be rugby – there is a place for everyone in the country. Britain is, after all, widely regarded as the birthplace of many world sports, including football, golf, rugby and cricket. Even baseball.

Every sport, it seems, is adopted at one point or another. The year in Great Britain beats to the rhythm of the sporting calendar like no other.

From the loud and drunken New Years Eve atmosphere at the World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace in London, to the summer test-match setting atmosphere at Lord’s Cricket Ground and the festive football crowds after Christmas , sports competitions are the backdrop to life in Brittany. Perhaps only winding weather talk can compete with sport in the stakes of the national conversation.

And although the sport resumed last June after the first lockdown, they have never been the same. Of course, sports television has provided a much needed distraction from the pandemic for many. But with no fans inside, something substantial was clearly missing despite the dubbed crowd noises.

Some sporting traditions did not return to the calendar last year for the first time since World War II, most notably the Wimbledon tennis tournament and the British Open golf course.

Wimbledon returned from their break on Monday with around 7,500 fans on center court, helping long-injured Andy Murray to victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili.

There are still social distancing rules that limit the number allowed at sports venues, but it is clear that those in attendance are making up for lost time. There will undoubtedly be a commotion on the last weekend of July 10-11 when the former All England Club hallowed court is at full capacity of nearly 15,000 as part of the government’s testing program.

Like Wimbledon and the final stages of Euro 2020, the British Open will be part of the government’s test event program – up to 32,000 fans will be able to attend each championship day from July 16 to 19 at Royal St. George’s in the south-east of England.

So far, the government has found “no substantial outbreaks” of the coronavirus among the test events in April and May, which included the FA Cup football final and the music Brit Awards. However, there is some evidence to suggest that some recent events, notably the Euro 2020 matches in Scotland, have contributed to the spread of the more contagious delta variant.

Professor Lawrence Young, a virologist at the University of Warwick, warned that allowing 60,000 fans to assemble at Wembley was a “recipe for disaster”.


Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine

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