The Dutch Health Minister says the entire 2020-21 Eredivisie season could be played behind closed doors, while fans will be allowed back at baseball matches from Friday…

Dutch mass gatherings

Dutch sports and music fans will not be able to attend events until a coronavirus vaccine has been found, the Dutch Health Minister has said.

Organised sport is due to resume in the Netherlands from September 1, but even then fixtures will be played without crowds. Festivals and concerts have also been scrapped until at least the end of August, while the 2019-20 Dutch football season has been abandoned entirely with no champions or relegation.

Hugo de Jonge, the Health Minister, has now told the Dutch Parliament that no one will be allowed to attend mass gatherings until a vaccine for COVID-19 has been found, according to a letter seen by sports news website voetbalprimeur.nl. Many scientists estimate it could be at least a year before an effective treatment to prevent the spread of the disease is ready for use.

“We cannot yet mention a date for the last step, the mass gatherings,” wrote De Jonge.

“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.”

Around the world, approximately 460 trials are taking place with the aim of combatting COVID-19.

Should the vaccine take more than a year to develop, it is possible that the entire 2020-21 Dutch football league season could take place without fans. The 2021 Eurovision Song Contest – due to be held in Rotterdam recently but rescheduled for next year – would also be in doubt.

German Bundesliga

The German Bundesliga will become the first major European football league to resume after plans to restart games next week were approved by the country’s top clubs.

At an Ordinary Assembly on Thursday, the 36 clubs of the upper two tiers of German football agreed the first match will be played on May 16, in order to complete the season by June 30. The German Government gave approval to the plans on Wednesday.

All games will be held behind closed doors as a ban on mass gatherings in Germany has been put in place until August 31.

The Bundesliga was suspended on the eve of matchday 26 on March 13. Clubs in Germany have been training for a month amid Covid-19 testing. Players will continue to be tested and teams will have to spend time in quarantine before games can restart.

The DFL is desperate to finish the season by the end of June to be contractually in compliance with sponsors and broadcasters. It had warned any further delay could be “existence-threatening” for some clubs.

“Many industries are now slowly starting up again in compliance with strict rules, and this applies to professional football too,” said Hans-Joachim Watzke, Borussia Dortmund’s chief executive.

“In this context, we at Borussia Dortmund are aware we have a great responsibility. We will – in the knowledge there can be no guarantees – do everything in our power to ensure the highest possible degree of safety in order to prevent any new infections among the players and their families.”

Domestic matches in both Croatia and Serbia are set to resume on May 30 behind closed doors, subject to government approval.

Asian events begin to reopen

South Korea and Taiwan are both to begin allowing spectators to attend live events as the nations begin to return to normality.

Baseball fans in Taiwan will be allowed to attend games from Friday, May 8 but with restrictions placed on their attendance.

Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said some 1,000 spectators would be allowed to attend the games in Taipei and Taichung.

Taiwan’s baseball league said in a separate statement that it will sell tickets on a ‘real name’ basis with designated seats, meaning authorities can more easily trace people if there are any infections linked back to attending the matches.

Fans will be required to undergo temperature checks and wear face masks, and seats will be kept one metre apart, it said. The league began last month but has been played without spectators so far.

Meanwhile, theatres and concert halls in South Korea have slowly started reopening in May after a two-month hiatus due to the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the Korea Times, the National Theater of Korea, will present the play ‘Chunhyang’ from May 14.

Extra safety measures have been introduced after a government recommendation that venues follow a policy of 2m social distancing and requiring audience members to wear masks at all times.

Image: Onderwijsgek