London was invaded this week. Everywhere I looked, I saw roving gangs of Scotsmen all over the city. I could identify them by their kilts, the Scottish flags they wore as capes, and the cans of Irn Bru. They were in town for the Euro 2020 football match between Scotland and England. Because large sporting events are a thing we’re doing now.
Should we really be doing this now?
First, I have to address the name of the event; Euro 2020. I understand the event was supposed to happen last year, and they are sticking with the 2020 because they don’t want to scrap and reprint all the souvenirs, programmes and paraphernelia they’ve had warehoused for the last year. And certainly, it’s better to use it than scrap it. But I would really be concerned with anything labelled ‘2020.’ 2020 is already cursed with plague. If we can get through the games without earthquakes, wildfires, or swarms of Murder Hornets, it’ll be a miracle.
The name of the tournament aside, is this really something we should be doing? Are we actually there yet?
Sporting events can be amazing. They are occasions of excitement, celebrations, louds cheers and cries of despair; they bring crowds of total strangers together in absolute unity in support of their team.
These are all things we’re not supposed to be doing right now.
The Stadiums have rules. They are limiting capacity to 20,000, people are required to have had a covid test and prove they are low risk for spreading the virus, they have to wear face coverings. The problem is, even though 20000 in a 90000 capacity arena seems like a small number, 20,000 is still a hell of a lot of people, and at least 19,990 of them are likely to be total strangers. You don’t know where they’ve been. Low risk for spread is not no risk for spread, especially with something as contagious as the Delta variant, and it only takes one slipping through to cause a superspreader event. And face masks quickly become chin guards as soon as the cheering starts.
Aside from the people at the stadium, people will gather in pubs and in homes to watch the matches. And if you’re drinking a beer (which I recognise is necessary for watching football) you can’t wear a mask and if you’re with friends, do you even need one? (yes, you do). You’re watching the match to have something to cheer about , and you can’t cheer in a mask.
We were doing well a few weeks ago. The Lockdown and slow reopening were working. We were down to under 2000 new cases per day. Now we are averaging 10,000 new cases per day; a spike brought on by travel over the long weekend. I expect to see another spike soon. We are being swamped by the third wave and it’s not receding yet.
Euro 2020 is happening, and everyone hopes it will be safe. Could it not have waited until we had a little more protection than ‘fingers crossed’?