Wednesday, February 24, 2021

ROUNDUP: Encouragement for sport: new concept should enable fans to return | 02/22/21


BERLIN (dpa-AFX) – A cross-industry concept for the controlled return of viewers is also awakening new hopes in sport for an early easing and a piece of normality in the Corona crisis. “Everyone can use an encourager at the moment. Nobody wants to lockdown anymore,” said Frank Bohmann, managing director of the Handball Bundesliga, to the German press agency on Monday after the study was presented. “We know how explosive an opening is, but we consider it to be responsible.”

The guide, which has been developed by 20 experts and scientists over the past two months, is divided into three areas: a basic concept with a capacity utilization of up to 40 percent, a special concept with a capacity utilization of up to 80 percent and a test concept for 100 percent full capacity utilization. A distinction is made between indoor and outdoor events.

“At some point the question has to be answered, how do we go backwards. We want to show politicians a way to go back. That is our priority,” said hygiene expert and co-author Florian Kainzinger. “When is a question that politicians are happy to discuss with us. We think that it will be possible to get started soon. But how is more important.” At the same time, Kainzinger appealed for a decision to relax not only on the basis of the current incidence figures: “The central question is the burden on the health system.”

The initiative is supported by major associations and professional leagues from football, handball, basketball, volleyball and ice hockey, among others. “The virus will be with us for months, years, maybe even forever. It is all the more important that we develop future-oriented concepts for a solution,” said Gernot Tripcke, head of the German Ice Hockey League. For the DEL it is “of essential importance that we can work promptly with a responsible perspective on the viewer issue”.

It is similar in handball, where the income from ticket sales accounts for up to 30 percent of the season budget of the Bundesliga clubs. “It is important for us that we can plan the coming season with spectators again,” said Bohmann. “But we should do it this season.” He would see an opening “better today than tomorrow. It is not possible to shut us in for months.”

Professional sport can claim to have already met many requirements. The cornerstones of the modular plan include the creation of a hygiene and infection protection concept, personal tickets for contact management, a continuous mask requirement and a ban on serving alcoholic beverages. “Most of these measures are already in place or well developed”, emphasized Tripcke.

According to Georg-Christian Zinn, a specialist in hygiene and environmental medicine, the newer virus variants can also be withstood if the planned measures are consistently implemented. “With good concepts, these variants can be pushed back. That doesn’t give us any stomach ache,” said Zinn. HBL managing director Bohmann therefore believes: “This can be a signal for society as a whole.” / Edo / DP / mis



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