Michael Ryan, emergencies director at the World Health Organisation (WHO), has warned that it is “very unrealistic” to expect countries with high rates of COVID-19 transmission to stage large-scale sporting events before the end of the year.

Although sports have started to resume in the UK in recent weeks, events are being held without fans. Last week, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson suspended the staging of pilot sports events with fans in attendance in England due to a rise in COVID-19 cases.

The UEFA European Football Championships and the Tokyo Olympic Games are the two major sporting events that have been postponed this summer due to COVID-19, with a raft of other leagues and competitions having been rescheduled or cancelled completely because of the pandemic.

During a live social media chat yesterday (Wednesday), Ryan warned that allowing tens of thousands of fans back at sports matches could be “disastrous” while transmission remains high.

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