Wimbledon finals to allow full crowd capacity with 45,000 at Euro 2020 final

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian</span>
Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

The final weekend of Wimbledon will be played on Centre Court in front of a capacity crowd – the first at a sporting event since the UK went into lockdown as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold.

The tournament, which gets under way on 28 June, will begin with 50% ground capacity before the finals on 10 and 11 July are played out in front of a 15,000-capacity crowd. The government has confirmed plans for up to 20 pilot events across sport and entertainment, with Wimbledon and football’s Euro 2020 the big winners.

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The final four European Championship matches to be played at Wembley including the final, which is also on 11 July, and both semi-finals in the preceding week will welcome crowds of up to 45,000 – half the stadium’s capacity – as key sporting fixtures will be allowed to open the doors to more fans.

A total of 20 events, which could include the British F1 Grand Prix and the Challenge Cup final, are to be added to the third stage of the government’s Events Research Programme despite the continuing growth of a third wave of Covid-19.

The news comes as the government were forced to abandon broader plans for a “freedom day” of 21 June. Rule changes which would have brought an end to social distancing and mask-wearing have now been pushed back to 19 July.

England’s first two group stage matches are also part of this “research programme” with current caps lifted to allow a potential 22,500 into the ground. For the semi-finals and the final – due to take place on 6, 7 and 11 July – the rules will be further eased, allowing the stadium to be half-full with crowds of around 45,000.

Fans entering the test events have to show proof of a negative Covid test or carry a “vaccine passport” showing they have been fully protected against the disease.

On Sunday England began their Euro 2020 finals campaign with a 1-0 win against Croatia. The official attendance fell short of the permitted capacity, however, with only 18,497 people recorded as being in the ground. Uefa was unable to explain the shortfall but suggested a lack of take-up from Croatian fans, who would have had to undergo 10 days’ quarantine on arrival in the country, was a factor.

While fans were able to transfer their tickets if they were affected by Covid, this appears not to have occurred in the numbers desired. There will be concerns that, should similar rules apply to ticket holders in the event of the final, problems of reallocation may persist in July too.

Silverstone chiefs have had preliminary talks with the government over an exemption to host next month’s British Grand Prix in front of a capacity 140,000 crowd.

An exemption for the race is being discussed which would allow substantially greater numbers than the 10,000 spectators currently permitted. Organisers of golf’s Open Championship, which is slated to be held at Royal St George’s from 15-18 July, also expect to be able to finalise fan numbers shortly.

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