July 29, 2020 / 5:29 AM / 7 days ago

UK sports minister confident fans can return to stadiums safely

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Newcastle United v Liverpool - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - July 26, 2020 General view of a sign and empty seats inside the stadium, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Pool via REUTERS/Laurence Griffiths

(Reuters) - The British government is confident it can implement measures to ensure spectators can safely return to stadiums amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s sports minister has said.

The government aims to reopen elite sports to fans more widely from Oct. 1 after announcing plans this month to allow spectators at select events to ‘stress test’ new guidelines.

Cricket friendlies were open to a limited number of spectators, while the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible and the Goodwood horse racing festival are also pilot events.

“ ... whether it’s sports stadiums or theatres, we’ve seen in other countries there is a way to get full audiences without a vaccine,” Minister for Sport Nigel Huddleston told BBC.

“I’m confident that there are measures that can be put in place that can give both those taking part in the sports and spectators confidence that they are going to somewhere safe.”

Senior government adviser James Calder had warned that sporting venues in England were unlikely to get the green light to fill to capacity this year.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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