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AFP
May 27, 2020

Liverpool match, Cheltenham Festival decision flayed

Sports

AFP
May 27, 2020

LONDON: Liverpool’s Champions League game with Atletico Madrid and racing’s showpiece Cheltenham Festival “caused increased suffering and death” by going ahead in March, a leading scientist told the BBC on Tuesday.

Professor Tim Spector, who leads the United Kingdom’s largest Covid-19 tracking project, said rates of cases locally “increased several-fold” following the events. Cheltenham attracted over 250,000 spectators to southwest England on March 10-13 and Liverpool played the Spanish side at Anfield on March 11 in front of a 52,000 crowd.

Figures seen by the BBC show in the last week of March, Liverpool and Cheltenham were among the areas with the highest number of suspected cases.The figure from the Covid-19 Symptom Study show an estimated five to six percent of the population, aged 20 to 69, having symptoms in those two regions.

The British government had advised that people should feel free to attend such events despite governments of other countries cancelling events at that time.Prime Minister Boris Johnson attended England’s Six Nations home game with Wales along with his then pregnant girlfriend Carrie Symonds on March 7.

Britain’s Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said at the time there was “no reason for people not to attend such events or to cancel them at this stage”. Professor Spector, though, says having seen the subsequent statistics this advice was wrong.The government replied that the blame could not be laid solely at the door of the sporting events.