Wed, 15 Jul 2020

Sweden opens up for sport

29 May 2020, 22:12 GMT+10

Competitive and professional sport can resume from 14 June, the Swedish government said Friday, but games would have to be played mostly without an audience.

With Sweden's softer approach to the new coronavirus, children's sports activities continued and adults were able to go to practice sessions.

"Now we're also opening up for competitive play among all ages, which means that high-level sports can resume once again," culture minister Amanda Lind told a press conference.

She said it would apply to all sports and at all levels, but only in a way that respects current guidelines from the Public Health Agency.

Events will have to take place outdoors and adhere to a ban on public gatherings of more than 50 people, meaning most games will have to be played in front of mostly empty stands.

While professional sports would be exempt from the agency's recommendation to avoid domestic travel of more than one to two hours, lower level teams would have to keep tournaments and matches local.

An announcement on when the Swedish football league will resume had been greatly anticipated in the country as players around much of Europe are already back on the pitch.

"It feels good that we are now at a point where we can begin a gradual return to some kind of normal," said Swedish Football Association president Karl-Erik Nilsson.

The association said it still did not have a schedule for the football league but would announce one soon.

Home Affairs minister Mikael Damberg told reporters health restrictions for restaurants and bars meant that supporters would not be able to congregate in sports pubs as they did before.

He also announced proposals for new legislation to toughen controls on restaurants and bars to make sure they respected guidelines on social distancing.

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