As restrictions ease across the country, both professional and amateur sports teams are putting on their club ties and getting on the road to play away games both locally and across the country. The sporting calendar hasn’t seen this much worldwide disruption since the second world war, so teams and fans around the world have been keen to get back on the field. With major events such as the US Open, Champions League and Olympics going ahead, athletes are enjoying being back on the field, but what has changed?

How have away games changed?

Apart from the obvious cancellations, rescheduling and postponement of events, sports events have changed enormously since the pandemic. Sports teams have had to adapt to new training schedules and in some cases, like the postponed 2021 Olympics, athletes are competing away from home without family or friends in the crowd. Grassroots and amateur sports have also been affected, with a reduction in travelling for away games and limited international opportunities to compete. School and university closures have also had an impact on the opportunities for teams to compete away from home as well as a reduction in training hours and facilities available to them.

Covid testing protocols

No matter what sporting event is taking place, athletes are getting used to rigorous Covid testing throughout their sporting schedule. If athletes display symptoms or a positive test result, they will have to follow the country’s specific rules which may include self-isolation or quarantine. Reduced travel opportunities and testing at airports may also affect how often fans can see their team away from home. Fans attending many games will need to provide proof of a negative COVID test in the last 24 hours or that they are fully vaccinated.

New matchday protocols

Various sporting bodies have introduced new safety policies and extra measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the Premier League. On 9th August they announced a range of matchday protocols designed to keep supporters safe, including:

– Fans providing a National Health Service COVID pass
– Social distancing measures
– One way systems
– Face masks in indoor areas
– Increased security checks.

Covid passports may also play a role in future games if infections rise, with 74 football clubs affected by new plans announced by the UK government. Despite these measures, fans of sports from bowls to golf to horse racing have been delighted to return to live sporting events and represent their team.

Travelling for international events

For international events, different countries still have varying restrictions for travel which will have an impact on the ability of many away fans to attend. In the UK, the safe list of countries to visit has used a traffic light system which continues to change on a weekly basis, causing some uncertainty for potential future fixtures. The UK cricket team have been seen around the world wearing their club ties and travelling through airport security, however, with strict lockdowns across Australia, it may be impossible for England fans to travel down under for the Ashes which are due to start in December 2021.

Positive signs for the sports world

As the pandemic hopefully slows down and vaccination rates increase around the world, it may soon be possible for fans and family members to attend away games and events abroad. In the UK, most stadiums will be operating at maximum capacity, with away fans encouraged to attend games in a safe and responsible manner. From flags in windows to supporters proudly wearing club ties, no matter what restrictions are placed on sporting events, fans continue to show their team loyalty wherever they can.