Fans in Amsterdam venue food for thought?


5000 fans at Johan Cruijff Arena Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

A maximum of 5,000 fans that have tested negative for COVID-19 will be able to grace the 2022 World Cup qualifier match between Netherlands and Latvia this month (March 27th) at the Johan Cruijff ArenA in Netherlands.

‘Johan Cruijff ArenA’ stated that during the course of the match, a new study will be carried out by Fieldlab Events under strict conditions in the facility. The study could play a key role in speeding up the return of spectators to stadia and other events in a safe and responsible manner. It could also be important for the closing stages of professional football season.

The 55,500-capacity Johan Cruijff Arena is the main stadium of the Dutch capital City of Amsterdam and the home stadium of football club AFC Ajax since its opening. Built from 1993 to 1996 at a cost equivalent to €140 million, it is the largest stadium in Netherlands.

Henk Markerink, CEO, Johan Cruijff ArenA, Netherlands, is a Member of Coliseum Strategic Committee.

Sander van Stiphout, Director International, Johan Cruijff ArenA, Netherlands, is a Member of Coliseum – Global Sports Venue Alliance.

The study which will be carried out in collaboration with the Dutch Government will focus on testing policy (rapid testing) and the use of the CoronaCheck App, which will be employed to check whether visitors have negative test results. If the study carried out proves to be effective, it could increase the chance of returning to full football stadia in the closing stages of the 2020-21 football seasons and during the (rescheduled) 2020 European Championships.

‘Johan Cruijff ArenA’ further stated that before a full house scenario arises, a limited number of spectators may be able to watch games by staying 1.5 meters apart, like at the start of the present season when 130 matches were successfully organized. If the coronavirus situation improves, it may be feasible in May or June this year – partly based on the results of the Fieldlabs – to take the final steps towards increasing capacity and scrapping the 1.5-meter requirement.

Research bubbles

Fieldlab Events will set up several research bubbles during the match between Netherlands and Latvia. Each bubble will be used to test potential risks and behavioral factors concerning the return of spectators to large-scale events, without sticking to the 1.5-meter rule. For instance, by exploring various seating possibilities, the order in which spectators enters diverse seating patterns and the separation of spectators upon arrival. In addition, one of the bubbles will contain a scientific research project by TU Eindhoven as regards the distribution of aerosols in the air. This will involve researching the build-up of aerosol concentrations in stadiums, and the effectiveness of measures aimed at reducing aerosol concentrations. In December 2020, artificial aerosol generators were used to perform initial measurements in the ArenA sans spectators.

Fieldlab Events

Fieldlab Events is a joint initiative by the events sector and the Government. Fieldlab conducts practical research so that knowledge and data can be gathered to enable larger numbers of spectators to attend events in a safe and responsible manner. Initial pilots were carried out at, for example, a conference, a theater show, an indoor concert, a dance event and two professional football matches. The international fixture between the Netherlands and Latvia will be the third football match based on which a study will be carried out. Results from these Fieldlabs can be used to advise the Government so that assessment frameworks can be finetuned. The findings can also be used for the National Events Plan which is aimed at organizing full-fledged business gatherings and spectator events as of July 1st, 2021, without implementing the 1.5-meter rule.

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