Dutch health minister, Hugo de Jonge, has asserted that no supporters will be allowed at matches until a vaccine is available, painting a bleak picture for the country’s football fans [Sky Sports].
All sporting events have been cancelled in the Netherlands until at least 1 September with the nation’s government taking a tough approach during the global health crisis.
The Eredivisie campaign was cancelled last month, with the authorities declaring no champion.
Matches may be permitted to return behind closed doors come September, but de Jonge says it’ll be a lot longer before the turnstiles reopen.
“We cannot yet mention a date for the last step, the mass gatherings,” he said, as quoted by Sky Sports.
“That is actually only possible if there is a vaccine and no one knows how long it will take. We hope of course soon, but a year or more is very real.”
The global health crisis is affecting all European nations to varying degrees.
In Germany, the infection rate has been lowered sufficiently so that the economy is starting to reopen, while the Bundesliga has been cleared to return behind closed doors later this month.
The return of elite sport is still some way off in many other countries, though, and it’s clear no risks will be taken in the Netherlands, where all sport will be halted for another four months.
Given that the UK has now recorded more fatalities than any other European nation [BBC News], the government will surely follow the Netherlands’ lead regarding mass gatherings.
How will governments be able to justify allowing thousands of people to attend football, concerts or any other large-scale event unless a vaccine is readily available?