Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg is aiming to fill half of its stadium at this year's postponed European Championship, better known as Euro 2020, as the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) ended its capacity limit for matches during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the decision of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), the Saint Petersburg Arena will be able to fill 50% of its 68,000-seat capacity at this summer's European Championship, Alexei Sorokin, the General Director of the Euro 2020 Organizing Committee in Russia said on Wednesday. Once the authorities of St. Petersburg give their approval, the UEFA will be informed of the decision in writing.
St. Petersburg is set to host three group stage matches and one of the quarterfinals of the 2020 UEFA Euro Cup at the second-largest sports complex in Russia, also known as Gazprom Arena. Inaugurated for the 2018 World Cup, the stadium will host the Russia-Belgium match on June 12, on June 16, the Russia-Finland and on the 21st, Finland-Belgium.
Sorokin explained to RIA Novosti that each city will be able to make a final decision on the capacity no later than April 28, but considered that, taking into account what happened with the coronavirus pandemic during the last 12 months, 50 percent of the stadium's capacity is a "good result".
During its latest Executive Committee meeting, the UEFA recalled its 30 percent spectator limit for all of its matches, including Euro 2020, which had been in place since last year in response to the coronavirus pandemic. UEFA potentially gave each host city authorization to choose how many fans will be able to access the stadiums of this summer's continent-wide European Championship depending on the epidemic situation in their respective countries.
"Considering the fact that 55 member associations of UEFA each face a different situation in the management of the pandemic, such a limitation is no longer required," European football's governing body explained its decision on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Covid-19 infection cases in Russia surpassed 4.5 million, while the number of deaths from the virus now stands at 99,233, according to the latest data. The country launched a mass vaccination campaign in December with its first coronavirus vaccine - Sputnik V. In total about 3.5 million Russians had been vaccinated with both doses of Sputnik V. As of late March, about one million people had been vaccinated in Moscow, the country's worst-hit city of more than 12 million residents.
The 2020 UEFA European Championship – the ultimate football (soccer) championship for 24 UEFA national football teams – is the 16th edition of Europe’s quadrennial men’s football tournament.
One of the world's biggest football tournaments has been postponed from last year due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The delayed European championship, originally scheduled to take place last summer in 12 host countries, is now due to be played across the continent, including Azerbaijan and Russia, between 11 June and 11 July.
Along with St. Petersburg, 2020 Euro Cup matches were supposed to be held at stadiums in 11 other cities across Europe, namely in London (England), Munich (Germany), Rome (Italy), Baku (Azerbaijan), Bucharest (Romania), Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Dublin (Ireland), Bilbao (Spain), Budapest (Hungary), Glasgow (Scotland) and Copenhagen (Denmark).