Experts are warning the European football championships could speed up the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus this summer. Games have been taking place all over the continent, with some massive stadiums at full – or nearly-full – capacity. Scientists say that the Euros are already leading to a rise in infections. And more than 60 percent of people in Europe still are not vaccinated.
The joy of Euro 2020 was summed up by Scotland fans: They were euphoric when their team earned a point against arch rivals England at Wembley. But their tournament came to an end soon after, and there was another sting in the tail – a COVID outbreak on and off the pitch.
Scotland midfielder Billy Gilmour tested positive, forcing him into quarantine. A post-game chat meant England’s Ben Chilwell and Mason Mount also had to isolate.
Even more worryingly, it was later revealed almost 1,300 Scottish fans were infectious when they went to London. The World Health Organization says supporters traveling to games is a recipe for disaster.
And the problem isn’t restricted to the UK. Finnish authorities say at least 300 fans were infected while following their national team, mostly at their two matches in St. Petersburg. That’s contributed to a sharp rise in new cases at home.
But despite these connections between Euro 2020 and COVID outbreaks, UEFA is pressing ahead with increased stadium capacities for the semifinals and final at Wembley. And politicians in several countries are furious. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer accused the governing body of putting profits over public health.
At Wembley on Sunday one group of fans will be celebrating their country’s great sporting success. But without further restrictions in London, fears of a COVID hangover will only rise.
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