Almost three-quarters of disabled fans keen to return to live sport from July 19

·2-min read

Almost three-quarters of disabled supporters are prepared to make an immediate return to full-capacity sports venues from July 19, new research has found.

The Level Playing Field charity, which works to ensure disabled people can freely access live sport, found that 73 per cent of respondents to its survey would return ‘right away’ when all coronavirus restrictions are removed. The full survey has not yet been published.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, indicated earlier this week that the Government intended to sweep away the final restrictions on capacity limits in England on July 19, with a final decision to come next Monday.

That would mean English sports venues being able to return to full capacity for the first time since the pandemic forced the country into lockdown in March 2020.

Many disabled people fall within the clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) category but LPF’s findings indicate that a large majority are prepared to come back as soon as restrictions are eased.

CEV spectators were controversially barred from attending the initial pilots in the Government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) in the spring, including the World Snooker Championship and the Carabao Cup final, before a change in guidance.

LPF has also called on clubs and venues to engage with spectators regarding face coverings before deciding on their approach.

The legal requirement to wear a covering looks set to be removed on July 19, and it will be left to individual settings to decide whether they wish to enforce them.

Racegoers at Beverley will be encouraged to wear masks but will not be forced to
Racegoers at Beverley will be encouraged to wear masks but will not be forced to (Tim Goode/PA)

The chief executive of a League One club told the PA news agency on Tuesday that they were minded to leave it up to individuals whether or not to wear a mask, while the clerk of Beverley Racecourse – which is staging an evening meeting on July 19 – said its approach would be to encourage face coverings rather than enforce them.

LPF said in a statement: “Clubs will follow the government guidance, but we would hope that they would engage with their supporters and understand supporters’ concerns.

“Like non-disabled supporters, some disabled supporters will want to wear a face covering, and some won’t. It’s all about having a personal choice. If a club imposes a face covering policy, we expect all supporters to follow this policy unless they are exempted from wearing face coverings.”

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