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UK tech firm develops COVID-19 passport for sports venues

Cyber security company VST Enterprises (VSTE) has announced details of a ‘sports health passport’ app that is designed to kickstart attendances at British sporting events in the coming months as the industry looks to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

The ‘V-COVID’ app would be powered by VCode and would be issued by sports clubs, organisations, event organisers or governing bodies as an officially recognised digital health passport.

VSTE, which was founded by tech entrepreneur Louis-James Davis, and its partner Redstrike will look to work alongside the government and other stakeholders to ensure that the technology can be deployed responsibly. Redstrike is a sports marketing agency and was founded by Mike Farnan, former international managing director of Manchester United.

The app would be used in conjunction with a government/Department of Health-approved COVID-19 testing kit administered by a doctor or healthcare professional that confirms and validates whether the user has tested positive or negative for COVID-19 or has the antibody present. There are also plans for the app to include confirmation on whether the holder is vaccinated.

Once the test has been completed, the results will be updated to the fan’s digital passport and once vaccinated it will provide permanent proof that the user is free of the virus. If the fan has tested negative, they will be able to purchase a ticket for the event by validating their V-COVID digital health passport.

This VCode will be unique to the fan and authenticated using its various security permissions, protocols and authorisations. An event official will scan the fan’s smartphone or printed VCode, with the technology to give an optimal scanning distance achievable from 100 metres.

The app can be used at all major sporting events, including football, golf, tennis, rugby, and Formula 1. Farnan and Davis plan to approach the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over the possibility of using the passport at the rescheduled Tokyo Games in 2021.

The technology can be integrated into existing sporting and healthcare apps using the software development kit and will also be rolled out alongside COVID-19 testing kits.

Davis said: “The ‘V-COVID’ digital health passport is a truly unique way in which all football and rugby clubs, major sporting events and sports governing bodies can implement a simple and highly effective universal system to ensure fan safety at sporting events following the gradual phased lifting of restrictions.

“Using the health app in conjunction with an official government/Department of Health-sanctioned COVID-19 testing kit, a series of authentications and permissions are acknowledged to validate the test results. In doing so it will not only allow the safe and gradual return of sports fans to sporting events, but it will do so in a safe and controlled way. Most importantly it will help all clubs, sporting organisations and events to rebuild after this unprecedented event.”

Farnan added: “The survival of (Premier League) and Football league clubs – which are great British institutions, part of the community and every day British life – is vital. The ‘V-COVID’ digital health passport app will become an important passport and interaction tool between fans and their football clubs or sporting events.

“It will also ensure that fans return to sporting fixtures and events in a safe and controlled manner. Let me make this clear, we are not claiming a magic solution here or expecting to fill stadiums, it will be a gradual and phased return for fans attending sporting events. But we do need to have a plan that revives the British sports calendar and its key events. British sport contributes £24bn to the UK economy every year.

“However we are fully conscious that it is vitally important for us to balance the desire for sporting fixtures to resume in the UK, but with all sports clubs, sports event organisers and governing bodies taking a serious and responsible approach to public health and safety with this life threatening virus.”

Image: Ungry Young Man