Sports sector demands equal Covid measures, threatening appeal

Sports sector demands equal Covid measures, threatening appeal
All lower league football matches in Flanders were cancelled as a result of the new rules. Credit: Belga

Sports stakeholders have called on the government to apply the same measures to their events as will be done for the cultural sector and has threatened to appeal to the Council of State as well if their demands are ignored.

Several sports organisations and representatives have asked for a similar solution to be applied to their sector, which was also heavily affected by the Consultative Committee last Wednesday, when it was announced that both professional and amateur sports games would no longer be open to the public, either indoors or outdoors.

This call comes in light of the decision made by the Council of State on Tuesday to suspend the closing of cultural venues, measures also announced during the Consultative Committee last week.

As a result, the Consultative Committee will be meeting online at some point on Wednesday to change these rules, which should result in cultural venues being able to reopen with a maximum capacity of 200 spectators.

Now, the sports sector has argued that the same solution should be applied to sports events to ensure crowds can once again be present.

Outdoor events in open spaces

Football and cyclist federations among others have argued that, if up to 200 people can attend events indoors, this should also be possible for outdoor events where crowds are spread out over open spaces.

The president of the Belgian Cycling League, Tom Van Damme, told Radio 1 that the decision from the Council of State could possibly be the basis for allowing the public to attend the next cyclocross races, and urged Wednesday’s Consultative Committee to also allow a return of spectators to sports events under certain conditions.

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“We think we have some arguments on the table to be able to relax the ‘disproportionate and insufficiently motivated’ rules. Our lawyers are currently looking into whether an appeal to the Council of State is necessary,” he stated.

The Dutch-speaking wing of the Belgian football federation, Voetbal Vlaanderen, which has postponed all lower league matches until 17 January, also believes that participation in sporting events should be based on the same approach as is taken for the cultural sector.

“It is very strange that you can go to a film with 200 people in the cinema and you are not allowed to stay in the open air with 200 spectators next to a large football pitch,” Marc Van Craen, chairman of Voetbal Vlaanderen, told Belga news agency.

It too is examining what steps can be taken to challenge the measures in place for sports events at the Council of State.

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