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As countries and regions across the globe begin to ease Covid-19 lockdown restrictions and slowly move through the phases towards the ‘new norm’, the time is gradually starting to arrive when spectators are allowed back into sports stadiums.
But even in countries and regions which have registered a relatively small number of deaths during the pandemic, the early signs are that the experience of watching live sport will be a long way removed from anything that went before.
When Hungary’s top-tier football league, the Nemzeti Bajnokság, returned last weekend, strict government social distancing regulations allowed for no more than one seat in four to be occupied in venues. In the example of the World Team Tennis mixed tennis tournament, scheduled for July in West Virginia, health guidelines will allow for the host arena to be filled to just 20 per cent capacity.
The job of encouraging fans back into stadiums in countries with a higher incidence of the virus may well take more than just the green light from governments. A Reuters/IPSOS opinion poll of 4,429 American adults in April found only 17 per cent said they would consider attending a professional sporting event once they re-open to the public.
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