Saudi sport stadiums open to vaccinated fans

Sports fans in audience wore masks and kept physical distance

A man and two children enter the Prince Faisal bin Fahad stadium in Riyadh. SPA
A man and two children enter the Prince Faisal bin Fahad stadium in Riyadh. SPA

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday opened its sports stadiums for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak last year, to fans who have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Football fans were delighted to watch their favourite teams Al Hilal and Al Ahli play at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium in Riyadh on Wednesday.

“I am so excited to be back,” Anas Ahmad, a Saudi football fan in Jeddah, told The National.

"I hope we can fill up stadiums soon. Tonight was the first step towards going back to normal. I feel positive as it gives me hope for the future."

Mr Ahmad said fans were asked to arrive early, line up while keeping distance from each other, wear masks and use the Tawakkalna mobile phone app to prove they had been vaccinated.

Tawakkalna was launched by Saudi authorities last year to help track coronavirus cases in the kingdom.

Footballers enjoyed playing in front of fans, running to the stands to celebrate goals in the Saudi Professional League game.

Saudi female officers and health workers were also at the match.

In March, the kingdom said stadiums would have a capacity of 40 per cent for members of the public who were vaccinated.

People could be admitted if they were inoculated with one or two doses, or had contracted the virus in the past six months.

Children over 7 and under 18 are also allowed to watch sports games if they did not show up as "infected" on the app.

From August, Saudi Arabia will make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for those who want to attend "any social, economic, commercial, cultural, scientific, entertainment or sports event", the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

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Published: May 19, 2021 11:46 PM

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