IHF spectacle from today sans spectators



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Handball World Championship without fans Image: Intl. Handball Federation

Four venues in Egypt will play host to the 27th edition of the International Handball Federation (IHF) Men’s World ChampionshipCairo Stadium Sports Hall, New Capital Sports Hall, Dr Hassan Moustafa Sports Hall (formerly October 6th ) and Borg Al Arab Sports Hall. It will take place in Egypt from January 13th to 31st, 2021. It will be the first IHF World Championship to be played with 32 teams and the IHF men’s flagship event will feature 108 games, with the final weekend taking place in Cairo.

All parties came to the agreement that the 27th IHF Men’s World Championship shall be held sans spectators (except media and Embassy representatives of the participating teams) in order to keep the stakeholders involved in the event safe and healthy going by the havoc the new strain of COVID-19 is causing in several countries around the globe.

The Basel (Switzerland)-headquartered International Handball Federation (IHF) is the administrative and controlling body for handball and beach handball.

A statement in the IHF website read, “As the IHF’s main concern has always been to safeguard the health of its main assets, the players, as well as all other handball stakeholders and reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 during the IHF’s major event in Egypt – the 27th IHF Men’s World Championship – the COVID-19 Medical Precaution Plan has been elaborated, which includes a full bubble concept with hotels exclusively reserved for World Championship stakeholders as well as different zones inside the arenas (bubble zone, safety zone, spectator area) which strictly separate stakeholders staying within the bubble from any external participants such as spectators, in case spectators would be allowed in the arena.”

The statement further read, “Over the past few months and weeks, the COVID-19 situation has been closely monitored and evaluated and the spectator question has been raised several times, with the latest information stating that the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population limited the number of spectators allowed to attend the matches in the arenas to 20 percent of the venue capacity.”

Earlier, though, 20 percent of the venue capacity was allowed, but the above decision of not allowing any spectators was arrived at after the IHF President, Dr Hassan Moustafa, met with the Egyptian Prime Minister, Dr Mostafa Madbouly, the Egyptian Minister of Health and Population, Hala Zayed and the Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports, Dr Ashraf Sobhy, to discuss the issue once more and take a final decision considering the current volatile COVID-19 situation the world over as well as concerns that have been raised, amongst others by the players themselves, in a letter from the European Handball Players’ Union addressed to Dr Moustafa.

The above decision has been taken despite the investments the Egypt 2021 Organising Committee has already made in terms of ticket sales. All fans that have already purchased tickets will be reimbursed.

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