Public health experts urge UEFA to make sense and not allow thousands of fans to travel across Europe to attend the Champions League final in Istanbul, where there are repeated cases of sky-high cases .
UEFA is expected to confirm that visiting fans will be able to attend the final at the Ataturk Stadium in Turkey.
With Chelsea and Manchester City now well-positioned to become a flagship project on May 29, English fans would take a 4,000-mile round trip to a country with the highest daily infection rate in Europe.
The Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul will host the Champions League final this year
Chelsea drew 1-1 with Spanish giants Real Madrid on Tuesday and Manchester City won 2-1 at the Paris Saint-Germain house last night.
Bookmakers now see an all-English final as the most likely outcome.
Currently, the number of daily cases of Covid in Turkey is 16 times higher than the UK, which has led experts to say the game should be moved to England.
The Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has ordered a “complete lockdown” of the country from today, which will last until May 17, in order to lower the level of infection. Schools are closed and travel is restricted. However, there is still an exception for international tourists as countries try to cling to a crucial source of income.
“It’s crazy and unnecessary to have the game in Turkey,” said Professor Keith Neal, a public health expert at the University of Nottingham.
Bayern Munich defeated Paris Saint-Germain in last year’s Champions League final, but without fans
“I think there will be serious problems. Turkey is a hot zone in Covid, and it is likely that it will continue to do so in May. You can’t see it getting better in five weeks.
UEFA and the Polish authorities are finalizing plans to allow 10,000 fans to take part in the Europa League final in Gdansk next month.
Sportsmail announced yesterday that the showcase project, which is to take place on May 26th in the Gdansk stadium with 41,000 seats, will now be played in front of a stadium that is a quarter full. An announcement is planned for Friday.
It increases the chances of Manchester United and Arsenal playing a European final in front of fans, provided both teams can emerge from a tough semi-final.
Experts to speak to Sportsmail are less concerned about the health risks of playing in Poland in front of fans compared to Turkey.
With 252 per million inhabitants, Poland has less than half of the daily new infections with Covid compared to Turkey. This is a similar number to Spain. Poland has given a first dose of a covid vaccine to 21 percent of its population, Spain has given a dose to 23%, compared to 16% in Turkey.
“And the disease rate in Istanbul itself, as in all major population centers, will be higher. UEFA didn’t realize they had a problem.
“People will travel in overcrowded planes, pass over crowded airports, and spend time in bars and restaurants. It’s too risky.
‘I would postpone the game. Move it to England where you can better manage it. You could bring it to England for the two English teams. ‘
As of Tuesday there were 552 new confirmed cases of Covid per million people in Turkey, compared to just 35 in the UK.
Since January, Turkey has topped the charts for the average number of new cases with an average of 52,000 new cases in Europe.
The vaccination program is now lagging behind most other European countries, with only 16% of the population receiving at least one dose of vaccine compared to almost half of the UK population.
Despite the high rates of infection, Turkey is desperate to preserve tourism and has given all foreign visitors an exemption from restrictions during the current lockdown, according to local reports.
Last year Turkey saw a 70% decrease in foreign visitors.
There are currently flights between the UK and Turkey. All passengers aged six and over must have a negative PCR test performed within 72 hours of departure. There is currently no obligation to isolate yourself in Turkey.
The Ataturk Stadium, which was supposed to host the final last year before the final stages of the Blue Riband competition moved to Spain, has a capacity of 76,000 fans.
Although the number of tickets available has not yet been confirmed, UEFA announced in the quarter-finals that 9,000 fans were expected to attend the final.
However, it is not the management of the fans at the stadium that is cause for concern.
UEFA should be confident that fans will be able to take part in the Champions League final
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin paved the way for the fans to the Champions League final
“The problem isn’t the stadium, it’s the journey and what people do when they’re there,” said Professor Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of Norwich.
“It brings a lot of people together, there can be too much alcohol.
“I don’t think it is a wise thing to do. From a public health perspective, this is not a good idea right now.
Professor Keith Neal says it is “crazy” for fans to travel to Turkey for the Champions League final
‘There are more infections around the world than ever before and there may be new varieties.
“From a global perspective, it doesn’t seem like a good idea to have large international events where people are likely not to follow guidelines because they are overseas and there is likely to be a lot of alcohol around.
“It wouldn’t be a worthwhile risk for me. Even though the falls are falling, it will still be quite high. Until then, there is no way Turkey will make it anywhere near Great Britain. ‘
The rapid development of the pandemic is an additional concern for Professor Hunter. The emergence of the potentially contagious Indian variant in the UK, if it catches on, could pose a risk to Turkey if fans travel there with it, he said.
UEFA President Aleksander Cerefin paved the way for fans to take part in the Champions League final at an Executive Committee meeting in March
The European Governing Body lifted its limit on the number of fans who can participate in games and will lift a ban on traveling fans in May. The 30 percent stadium capacity limit was set in October in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
As a result, it is now up to the governments in the host countries to determine whether visiting fans are allowed to attend games and how many are allowed to travel. However, this is based on discussions between the governing body and the local authorities.
Last year’s Champions League final was played in front of empty grandstands.
The lockdown in Turkey is expected to end on May 17th. This is also the earliest time UK residents will be allowed to travel abroad from the lockdown under the government’s timetable.
The countries are preparing to allow fans across Europe to take part in the Euro 2020 games in June
ODDS ON FOR AN ALL-ENGLISH FINAL
Bookies have achieved all-English odds for the Champions League after Chelsea drew against Real Madrid and Manchester City won in the semifinals in Paris Saint-Germain.
All-English Final: 8/11
The bookmakers are also keen on an all-English affair in the Europa League, including in the final, which will be played in Gdansk on May 26th. Tonight, Manchester United will face Villareal in the semi-finals.
All-English Europa League Final: 11/10
Both finals should be purely English: 11/4
Currently, all overseas holidays are banned for UK residents.
However, yesterday, Grant Shapps took a positive view of the May easing travel restrictions with the development of the NHS app designed to act as a secret passport to prove that a person has been vaccinated against the virus, has immunity or a negative test.
However, his comments on Sky News left many questions unanswered as to when the app will be ready and what quarantine requirements it will have when people return home.
Even if travel restrictions are relaxed after May 17th and the app is ready, the feasibility of a trip to Turkey for fans may depend on the UK government’s traffic light system.
When people return from red or amber countries, they can expect a 10-day quarantine.
As part of the plans, countries will be marked with a color (red, amber or green) that will set the quarantine requirements for returning to the UK.
Mr Shapps told Sky News: “I have to say that the data continues to look good so far from a UK perspective regardless of concerns about where people might travel and making sure we are protected from the disease re-importing.”
He added that he would outline which countries would be classified as “green”, “amber” and “red” under the new risk-based traffic light system “towards early May”.
The graphic shows how the NHS app can function as an undercover passport using immunity and testing