Covid-19: Italy to allow up to 1,000 spectators at open-air sports events

New rules begin with Italian Open semi-finals in Rome.

Up to 1,000 spectators will be allowed to attend the semifinals and finals of the Italian Open tennis tournament, the government said on 18 September, Italian news agency ANSA reports.

The move, announced by Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora, allows the limited return of spectators to open-air sports events for the first time since the start of the covid-19 crisis.

“Starting with the semifinals and finals of the (Italian Open), up to 1,000 spectators can attend all sports competitions that are held outdoors" - Spadafora said, adding that spectators must "scrupulously respect" the rules on social distancing, masks and reserved seating.”

“It’s a first, but significant, step toward the return of normalcy in sports,” the minister said.

The 2020 tennis tournament, rescheduled from its usual slot in May due to the coronavirus pandemic, has so far been played behind closed doors in a move slammed as an "enormous injustice," by Italian Tennis Federation president Angelo Binaghi.

The tournament features nine-time champion Rafael Nadal and top-ranked Novak Djokovic, with the semifinals and finals for both men and women beginning in Rome on 20 September.

The Italian soccer season also kicks off this weekend.

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