Jabs or cranes for Poland speedway fans?


Poland opening Speedway venues for vaccinated people Image: Łukasz Trzeszczkowski & newspix.pl

As COVID-19 derails all attempts by sports venues across the world to bring back spectators into its fold, speedway fans in Poland are waiting with bated breath for a green light from the Government to permit vaccinated people into stadia.

One of the most popular sports in Poland is motorcycle speedway. The Polish Extraleague (the top division of motorcycle speedway in Poland) has the highest average attendances for any sport in Poland. The national motorcycle speedway team of Poland is controlled by the Polish Motor Union (PZM). The team is one of the major teams in international speedway. Speedway is a motorsport where motorcycle racers compete on an oval-shaped dirt track.

With all three Polish speedway leagues scheduled to begin from April 2021, there is an adrenaline rush among fans to cheer their favorite teams from up close.

There are three types of speedway championships in Poland -individual, pairs and team, consisting of three leagues – the lower division First League, the second tier Second League, which allows some countries like Latvia, Hungary, Czech Republic and Ukraine to compete and the top division Speedway Extraleague, which boasts of the highest average attendance.

onet.pl reported that most clubs had already started selling season tickets for the high speed races, although there was no indication that restrictions would be slackened except for only those who managed to get the COVID shot.

The volleyball community recently showed the way for others to emulate as it opened the stadium doors to those who had armed themselves against the deadly coronavirus with double dose jabs of the lifesaving vaccines.

What followed was an appeal to the Government to allow all sports to chart the same course.

onet.pl further reported that the positive response of the Government may mean that all disciplines, including speedway, will be able to employ the solution.

Ryszard Czarnecki, Vice-President, Polish Volleyball Federation, and a huge fan of speedway, stated, “The Polish Volleyball League came out with the initiative that medics, that are broadly understood medical service, who are already vaccinated, could appear at volleyball matches. This, of course, requires a change in Government ordinances. However, I think that it is possible and necessary to go in this direction. The more so because from what I hear, Japan is also considering the option of opening the stands to people who will be vaccinated in due time before the Olympics.”

Added Czarnecki, who is also a Member of the European Parliament for Law and Justice, “I personally submitted this idea on behalf of the Polish Volleyball Federation (PZPS) and now the ball is in the Government’s court. I honestly admit that the reactions of both the Chief Sanitary Inspector, Deputy Minister of Health Waldemar Kraska and the Chancellery of the Council of Ministers are very positive. Now the only thing left is to determine the details.”

Czarnecki elaborated, “We have only worked through the first weeks of immunization and the Government has other priorities, which is to tackle the very issue of social immunization. In some time, however, we will not talk about ideas anymore, but it will even be necessary to make more specific arrangements between the unions and leagues, and the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate and the Ministry of Health, because these institutions will largely decide on the scope of opening the stands for fans. It seems that everything should go in the right direction, because opening the stadiums to the vaccinated will also be a form of promotion of the very idea of vaccination.”

In June 2020, the Polish Government had allowed 25 percent of the venues’ capacities to be filled in stadiums with priority given to football. The percentage allowed was systematically increased and finally reached 50 percent of an arena’s capacity. However, the new virus variant tightening its stranglehold in Europe put an end to this.

One will have to wait and watch to see if the thumbs up come from the Government for the 2021 Speedway season. Otherwise, one may well witness another round of cranes being hired by Speedway enthusiasts stationed outside stadia as was done in July 2020 to egg on their favorite team to win.

In July 2020, with pandemic restrictions in place, supporters of speedway racing team Motor Lublin hired 21 cranes to get a bird’s eye view of the race inside the Stadion Zuzlowy, Lublin.

Stadion Zuzlowy is a multiuse stadium in Lublin, Poland. It is currently used mostly for motorcycle speedway matches. The stadium holds 13,000 people.

It is literally a case of ‘shot in the arm’ for diehard Poland speedway fans.

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