The high-ranking Qatari official felt that the inevitable discovery of a vaccine for Covid-19 should ensure the pandemic dies down by 2022…
Even as the world struggles to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic, many sporting competitions around the globe have restarted without the involvement of spectators.
With the implementation of safety protocols and bio-secure bubbles to contain the spread of the virus among players, numerous tournaments have been held behind closed doors at centralised venues, including the West Asian matches of the 2020 AFC Champions League that is being held in Qatar.
Though there is still no clarity on when spectators will be allowed back into stadiums in most of the countries around the world, given the spread of the pandemic, Qatar are optimistic that the 2022 World Cup will be open to fans.
Dr.Abdul Wahab Al Musleh, advisor to the minister of Public Health of Qatar on Sports Affairs, stated that Qatar were prepared to allow spectators in for even the AFC Champions League that is set for culmination on Saturday. However, he felt that spectators should be, in all reality, be allowed to attend the 2022 World Cup.
It must be noted that Qatar Football Association (QFA) and Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) have been appreciated for implementing a bio-secure bubble for the players and officials during this tournament.
“We could have allowed spectators – we did say that a limited number of fans can be allowed – up to 30 per cent. AFC (Asian Football Confederation) decided not to in order to reduce the likelihood of the disease spreading among the spectators and not make the tournament a reason for the spread. The decision is theirs,” Dr.Al Musleh said during an online interaction that touched upon the intricacies of hosting mega sporting events in a Covid-19 world.
The Qatari official felt that the final decision on allowing fans into the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup will rest with FIFA but felt confident that the global showpiece will not be held without fans and thereby robbing it of its glamour.
He felt that a vaccine solution for the Covid-19 is should come within the end of 2020 and it will further ensure that the severity of the pandemic will be suppressed by the time the 2022 World Cup rolls along.
“Ultimate decision (on allowing spectators) will be with FIFA. We are hoping that with the appearance of the vaccine at the end of this year and distribution in the first quarter of 2021 would make the pandemic sort of come to an endpoint where the spread will be similar to other infections like the flu. Any disease never disappears but the manner in which we tackle will reduce the likelihood to spread the infection,” he added.
Qatar have already done commendable work in limiting the spread of the disease in the country, with strict measures implemented by the Qatar Government. Dr.Al Musleh felt that the situation in the country will be well in control by the time the World Cup happens.
“We are confident that by the time the World Cup happens, the disease will come to some sort of an end – at least in the country. We will have the vaccine soon – large proposition of the population will be immune. Spectators from within the country (will be able to attend). I hope other countries’ fans will also can visit. There won’t be any issues.”
To ensure the safety of fans during the World Cup, Dr. Al Musleh also said that Qatar could implement measures to allow fans who have some sort of immunity from the virus into the country. He further explained that there are two different scenarios Qatar can consider – one when a fan has already contracted the virus before and has developed herd immunity and the other where the fan has been administered with the vaccine.
“There could be a requirement that in order to come to Qatar, the fan will have to produce evidence of taking the vaccine and proving they are immune. They could also have developed herd immunity with exposure to those who have been infected. In that case then there is no risk at all.”