Berlin’s ISTAF meet to take place with 3,500 fans in September

Berlin’s ISTAF athletics meet can take place in front of up to 3,500 fans in September, making it one of the first big event in the country to have an attendance amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are very happy that we can at least allow several thousand fans to attend thanks to our comprehensive safety and hygiene concept,” meet director Martin Seeber said in a statement on the ISTAF homepage on Tuesday.

“Our planning is based on the safety and health of everyone.”

The ISTAF is set for September 13 in the vast Olympic Stadium, with Swedish pole vault world record holdeer Armand Duplantis and popular German steeplechaser Gesa Krause among the registered top athletes.

The 3,500 fans will be joined by an additional 1,500 people, ranging from athletes and officials to security and technical personnel, and media.

This is conform with local coronavirus-related health regulations which allow outdoor events with up to 5,000 people as long as hygiene and social distancing rules are observed.

“3,500 instead of 45,000 – the ISTAF will certainly be different this time around. But it is a first small step towards normality,” Seeger said.

“We want to send a signal for the whole of sport with the ISTAF and want to be a shining light for athletics,” Seeger added, saying they also want to show “that we are there for fans and athletes in difficult times.”

Other sports are also aiming to have fans back in autumn, with football authorities hoping that a September 5 Nations League match against Spain in Stuttgart, the first round of the German cup a week later, and the September 18 Bundesliga start will also no longer have to take place behind closed doors.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told Tuesday’s Muenchner Merkur paper he is upbeat that fans can return to football in autumn after detailed concepts for such a return have been presented.

“I have long been of the opinion that spectators can be let into stadiums again if a strong hygiene concept is in place,” Seehofer said.

“It could start in autumn. Of course not with a sold out arena but the numbers can rise step by step. The virus hits where the rules are not observed.”

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