Frankfurt / Main (dpa) – The six-week test run is nearing the end, the question marks about the temporary return of spectators to professional sport are bigger than ever:
In view of the steep rise in the number of infections, will the experiments be continued? Does the targeted 20 percent utilization with low infection rates still play a role in view of the increasing incidence values in the autumn weeks? This weekend, seven out of nine Bundesliga stadiums will be playing in front of (almost) empty stands, only in Wolfsburg (6000) and Union Berlin (4500) a larger number of football fans are allowed.
Even in the capital, the plan to play again in front of an audience despite the high Corona numbers is being viewed critically. The Berlin Senate Department for Internal Affairs and Sport has described the decision to allow around 4500 spectators to play at 1. FC Union’s home game against SC Freiburg as a “wrong signal”. A spokesman said on Friday at the request of the German Press Agency that they had “wanted a different solution”.
Already on Thursday, Berlin’s Senator for Health Dilek Kalayci (SPD) called on football fans to avoid visiting the stadium if possible. “I understand the passion for football,” said Kalayci. “But I’ll stick to it: Avoid social contacts. If possible, stay at home,” she said addressed to the citizens. The current appeals from politics, made by Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) among others, do not fit in with large events with thousands of visitors, even if the event is prepared with a hygiene concept.
When politics approved the test run in September, the corona situation nationwide was much more relaxed. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) stated that for him sport “without an audience is unimaginable in the long run.” On this Friday, a spokesman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior warned once again to “come to a uniform procedure” on the audience issue. But while FC Bayern Munich, for example, had to play permanently in front of empty stands during the test phase, Hannover 96 is allowed to allow 9,800 spectators this Saturday. A nationwide compromise solution does not seem in sight here – unless the infection numbers force ghost games again everywhere, as last in spring.
The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) advocates an extension of the test operation, which applies not only to football, but also to other sports. “The plea of the team sport associations and the DOSB is that we propose and strongly recommend that the evaluation phase be extended until the end of the year,” said President Alfons Hörmann.
There had already been voices from the Bundesliga recently calling for the existing regulation to be modified. Managing director Alexander Wehrle from 1. FC Köln admitted to accepting the existing guidelines, but also said: “We have a viable concept from the health department for 9,200, 15,000, 23,000 spectators. 30 or 40. It is viable. That means the likelihood of being infected in the open air stadium is very, very low. “
Augsburg’s manager Stefan Reuter had suggested not only considering the Corona numbers in Augsburg itself, but also the rest of the surrounding area, “where the numbers are sometimes significantly lower”. Compromises on the part of politics are currently not to be expected – especially in view of the dynamic pandemic development, as an example from North Rhine-Westphalia shows.
Accordingly, spectators should be completely excluded from nationwide team sport competitions if the number of new infections at the venue is more than 35 cases per 100,000 inhabitants within a week. The state health ministry of North Rhine-Westphalia made this clear, as the “Westfalen-Blatt” reported (Friday).
So far, the authorities have usually allowed 300 spectators to watch the games even with an incidence value above 35. The district governments should now ensure compliance with the legal opinion. In these cases, the 20 percent that was once targeted should soon no longer be discussed, but only whether there are no viewers at all or only very few.