Now that South Africa has exited the long third-wave of Covid-19 infections and the vaccine programme is making progress, should fans be allowed back into stadiums?
South Africa’s Deputy President David Mabuza has been to various parts of the country encouraging sports fans to get vaccinated as part of the 'Return to Play: It’s in Your Hands' Covid-19 vaccination campaign.
Speaking last week at the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban, the deputy president spoke about the impact of not having fans and spectators in venues to support artists and athletes alike. Mabuza explained that artists are struggling to survive, as the financial implications of empty stadiums and reduced capacity venues is dire. He also believes that not having spectators in venues has an impact on player performance.
“The devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, extends to all sporting codes, affecting sportsmen and women, artists, the creative sector, and those involved in the secondary aspects of the industry like events coordinators, promoters and sponsors” added Mabuza.
He said, “Soon we want to come back to this iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium as spectators to attend soccer matches or to attend music concerts. It is possible to return to this stadium at maximum capacity and watch our favourite soccer matches, once the population or herd immunity is achieved, we will fully open the economy and ensure that peoples’ livelihoods are secured,”.
Professor Barry Schoub, a Virology Expert and head of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 Vaccines says the use of vaccination certificates to attend venues will be good public health practice.
He explained that fans often sing and chant during events which could produce infectious Covid-19 droplets. They also sit close together.
Schoub said, “I would think it would be very good public health practice to make it a requirement to be vaccinated to attend these kind of these kind of (sporting) functions”.