As sports leagues around the world grapple with returning to the field amid the coronavirus pandemic, many are resorting to closed doors games out of safety. But in Hungary, leagues are taking a different route by allowing limited fans into stadiums.
The Hungarian national football federation (MLSZ) has set forth regulations deeming that fans can attend games at a reduced stadium capacity to ensure safety through social distancing. While the Chinese Professional Baseball League has also begun admitting fans into stadiums, Hungary is the first European country to do so.
“The clubs organizing the matches must ensure that social distance is maintained in the stands to guarantee the conditions for epidemiological control,” the MLSZ said in a statement, via CNN.
Last weekend marked the first games in Hungary employing social distancing in stadium stands. Fans were spaced three seats apart from each other while every other row was kept vacant. About 500 spectators were granted entry into Friday’s Nemzeti Bajnokság match between Kaposvar and ZTE at the 7,000-seat Rákóczi Stadion. Over the course of six games held throughout the weekend, roughly 5,500 fans were in attendance to catch the action.
Rendkívüli stadionkép egy rendkívüli helyzetben – így indultak újra nézők részvételével az OTP Bank Liga küzdelmei Kaposváron. pic.twitter.com/rOk1vnyohx
— MLSZ (@MLSZhivatalos) May 29, 2020
Nearby in the Czech Republic, fans are shut out of games but still finding ways to join together for sports. Fans have resorted to drive-in style viewings to cheer along teams while games are projected at drive-in theaters. Other creative ways sports leagues are experimenting with bringing fans into games include the use of a remote cheering app, Zoom meetings to project crowds into stadiums, and propping mannequins into stands.