The coronavirus pandemic has led to the stoppage of normal life and the suspension of all sports, but Germany is about to get a shred of normalcy back.
The top two divisions of Germany’s soccer league, the Bundesliga, began practicing again this week, and there’s a plan in place to start playing games by the beginning of May. Christian Seifert, the CEO of the Bundesliga, confirmed the plan with the New York Times on Wednesday.
The plan to resume the Bundesliga season
Seifert told the Times that games will commence at all 36 stadiums in early May, with the nine remaining games in the season set to conclude in June. All games will be played at empty stadiums.
Seifert and his staff have worked out how many people need to be involved in the games, and have even appointed a group to handle hygiene and contingency plans.
In working out a plan, the Bundesliga estimates that 240 people, including players, coaching and medical staff, match officials and production staff will be needed for each game. Two groups have been set up to deal with the practicalities of staging the game: one to set up uniform game day regulations and the other, perhaps more important, to devise a hygiene plan for training and games and to work out what measures to take if a player tests positive.
How can the Bundesliga resume games amid the coronavirus?
How is the Bundesliga able to do this while the coronavirus is still running rampant throughout the world? It comes down to how Germany has handled the pandemic. The country has the fourth-largest number of recorded cases in Europe, but its death rate is lower than South Korea — where, not coincidentally, baseball is beginning to get underway. Germany also has a robust testing system, with laboratories building stocks of testing kits starting in January, a month before the country saw its first case.
Germany is now testing around 350,000 people a week, which allows them to isolate those who test positive and prevent them from spreading the coronavirus to others. That robust testing system also means that everyone involved in game day operations for the Bundesliga can be tested without overwhelming the system or denying tests to those who need them.
“It won’t be the case that one doctor or one nurse that is really relevant for the system cannot be tested because football players have to be tested,” Seifert told the New York Times.
People everywhere are longing for a return to normalcy, and Seifert wants the Bundesliga to do its part — but as safely as possible.
“We are part of the culture in the country, people long to get back a short piece of normal life, and that could mean the Bundesliga plays again,” Seifert said. “This is why we have to play our role here, and that means to support the government and to talk with the government about when we will be able to play again.”
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