Friday 9 April 2021 8:32 am

Sporting bodies back vaccine passports and Covid tests for return of live events

The UK’s leading sports bodies have backed the use of vaccine passports and Covid testing as a “credible” means of returning punters to stadiums this summer.

In a joint letter to the leaders of the major political parties, the group said it could “see the benefit” of rolling out Covid certifications and rapid testing “in getting more fans safely back as quickly as possible”.

“This process must ensure that everyone can access stadia and must include arrangements that would verify a negative Covid test or an antibody test alongside vaccination certification,” the letter read.

The statement from the Football Association, Premier League, Rugby Football Union and England and Wales Cricket Board, among others, urged the government to offer “certainty as soon as possible” on plans to reopen major venues. 

It warned that current social distancing measures will be “insufficient to end sport’s Covid financial crisis” and that stadiums will need to hit full capacity for sporting businesses to return to profit. 

In their letter Boris Johnson and the leaders of the main opposition parties, the group of sports bodies warned that the 25 per cent cap on crowds “will be insufficient to end sport’s Covid financial crisis.”

It comes after an interim government report on Monday suggested vaccine passports were “likely to become a feature of our lives” and could “potentially” be used to access nightclubs, festivals and sport events.

Larger outdoor sports venues will be allowed to operate at up to 25 per cent capacity from 17 May under the Prime Minister’s roadmap for leaving lockdown, with a maximum of 10,000 spectators.

Wembley Stadium will only have a maximum of 50 per cent capacity for the latter stages of the Euro 2020 matches in July.

It is not yet clear whether social distancing measures will cease on 21 June 21 as outlined by the PM’s roadmap, amid concerns that new variants could scupper the nation’s vaccine programme.

The Prime Minister has not yet fully committed to introducing vaccine passports, but said earlier this week it was right to look at “all possibilities”.

However, plans to roll out Covid certifications have been met with fierce opposition from libertarian-minded Tory MPs, who have warned that they will carve up the nation into a two-tier society.

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told City A.M. last week that there is “a lot of concern about” the possibility of domestic vaccine passports among the Tory ranks.

Read more: UK vaccine passport app could become ‘honeypot’ for hackers, says former top government cyber adviser

“I just don’t see how it will work and the hospitality sector is up in arms – it’s very difficult to implement and it’s really intrusive,” he said. “We’re planning on having everyone vaccinated, so why would you have vaccine passports?”

Former Cabinet minister David Davis told City A.M: “Whitehall salivates over identity management. I don’t want Whitehall managing my identity very much, my identity belongs to me not to the state, and I don’t want them utilising my data.”