Covid-19 and sport: Government data shows mass participation events can happen 'safely'

Over 350,000 people attended the British Grand Prix over three days
The data from the UK's Covid pilot program to test the return to venues of large crowds has shown that major events can be safely conducted, according to the government.

The data from 37 trials events, including Wimbledon and the British Grand Prix, showed that case numbers were "largely consistent with or below" the community infection rates over the four-month program.

Data from the Euro 2020 final show that 2,295 people were at or near Wembley and that another 3,404 could have contracted Covid-19 during the event.

Oliver Dowden, culture secretary, stated that while we have shown that it is possible to safely reintroduce mass sport and cultural events, it is crucial that people be cautious when mixing in crowded environments.

"To keep the football season, the theatres, and gigs safe, I urge sports, music, and culture lovers to get the vaccine. This is the best way we can get large events firing on all cylinders again.

The Events Research Programme of the government included performances at London's theatres and music festivals (including Download, Tramlines, and Latitude) as well as sporting events.

On Friday, figures showed that NHS Test and Trace had recorded 585 cases during July's British Grand Prix. This event hosted the largest crowd of people in the UK for over 18 months and saw more than 350,000 people attend in three days.

There were 343 cases that were most likely to be already infected, and 242 cases from people who may have contracted an infection during the event.

881 cases were also recorded by NHS Test and Trace at Wimbledon that month. Wimbledon hosted around 300,000 people in two weeks.

This leaves 299 cases of infection, and 582 cases with probable infections at the championships.

According to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, "Assumptions can't be made that transmission occurred at an event, or that individuals were infected during their attendance at an event."

The Euro 2020 final between England & Italy was held during a period of higher underlying community prevalence of Covid-19.

This, along with the large number of ticketless supporters who gathered at Wembley contributed to the increase in infections.

"Euro 2020 was an exceptional occasion, and it is unlikely that we would see a similar effect on Covid-19 patients from future events," stated Dr Jenifer Smith (Deputy Medical Director at Public Health England).

"The data shows how easy the virus spreads when it is in close contact. This should be a warning for us all, as we attempt to return to a more cautious normality."

Michael Kill, chief executive of Night Time Industries Association said that they were pleased to see the data support the possibility for cultural events, particularly club shows, and mass gatherings, to take place safely.

"The industry is doing an incredible job in maintaining safe spaces for people socially to engage, and after a month we are happy to see consistent figures that show a measured fall in deaths and cases.

"We hope these results will restore confidence in key sectors."