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Published 30 September 2020
In light of the rising transmission rate of Covid-19, the Government has postponed fans returning back to venues and stadiums as was originally planned for 1 October. Instead, a new group called S.T.I.G has been created, also known as the Sports Technology and Innovation Group, with the aim to work with sport bodies to explore high-tech solutions to get fans back into venues.
It is an independent team of sport, health and tech experts who have been brought together to explore a range of high-tech solutions so that fans can be back in elite sports venues when it is safe to do so. Current suggestions are this won’t be until Spring at the earliest.
The group will be Chaired by David Ross, co-founder of Carphone Warehouse and Non Executive Director of the British Olympic Association. The Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor, Jonathan Van-Tam, will also attend the meeting. Jonathan played a significant role in producing Government guidance around the safe return of elite and grassroots sport, alongside representatives from the Premier League, Microsoft, Innovate Finance and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) amongst others.
S.T.I.G members currently include:
The group will aim to work closely with sports bodies and the Sport Grounds Safety Authority to explore the whole ‘fan journey’ - from home to venue – to include fans’ travelling to and from stadiums, as well as reducing crowding both inside and outside those venues. A call for ideas has been made by SGSA who are actively seeking technological and innovative ideas from organisations which may help with solutions on ticketing, venue capacity, inside venue behaviour, pre-event build-up, travelling and last mile zone, to include departure and post-event. Among the aim is to ensure fan and public safety, avoiding bottle necks, shared responsibility, social distancing and minimising risk of transmission.
Fans attending live sport events, stadiums and venues are vitally important to local communities and businesses who rely on them for income in towns and cities across the country as well as the clubs themselves who rely on match/game day income. The current situation is affecting all sports across all levels. It is hoped there is engagement and shared best practice from other elite sports such as Formula 1. The organisers of the recent Russian F1 race managed a return of some 30,000 spectators into Sochi Autodrome. Whilst we do not know precisely how successful this has been, there are plans afoot for spectators to return in limited numbers to some of the remaining races. It is crucial that input from across the wider sports community is invited as well as business communities and those involved in the health & safety risk and insurance sector.
The Sports Technology and Innovation Group will report its recommendations to the Culture Secretary in due course with the hope that its findings, technical solutions and innovations will help bring crowds back to elite sporting venues when it is safe to do so.
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