Bashkiria and Moscow introducing restrictions on sporting events. Is Tatarstan next?

Should we wait for matches without spectators to be back in Kazan and Ufa?

The epidemiological situation in Russian regions is concerning day after day — it isn’t excluded the spring scenario is going to be back when the majority of regions, including Tatarstan and Bashkiria, introduced strict restrictions on visiting mass events. Of course, in this layout, professional sport will suffer too. Read in Realnoe Vremya’s report what restrictions are already back in Moscow and its region, when hockey with football will finally be prohibited in Ufa and what awaits Tatarstan.

Moscow has reduced the occupancy rate of stands by 25%, spectators are forbidden in Moscow Oblast in general

The growth pace of COVID-19 patients in Tatarstan isn’t glittering, however, like almost in any other region of the country. 67 new cases of coronavirus were registered on 12 November in the republic, and it is a record since late May. At the moment, Tatarstan has 9,111 cases.

“The growth remains, it isn’t intensive, but there is growth. Compared to October, the cases have increased 1,7 times,” said vice head of the regional office of Russia’s consumer rights protection watchdog Lyubov Avdonina.

We should remind you that the first restrictions are already back in the republic — restaurants may not receive guests after 23.00, and it seems that this isn’t the end.

What can elite sport face? Nothing good because authorities in Russia’s capital and Tatarstan’s some neighbouring regions have already launched a large-scale campaign with a reduction in the number of spectators in the stands, and sport is gradually moving to TV and online for fans.

Anti-COVID-19 measures in professional sport are taken in Moscow and the Moscow region full steam. A few days ago, Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin said on Russia-24 TV channel that football and hockey matches would be hosted in the capital with an occupancy rate of no more than 25%.

It is noteworthy, that Avangard HC playing in Balashikha as well as Khimki from the namesake town may not let their fans in at all. Both cities are close to the Moscow Automobile Ring Road though they relate to Moscow Oblast that has followed a much stricter scenario by banning visiting all sporting events. Even if the regional statistics look significantly more “optimistic” than in the capital (around 750 cases against almost 6,000 on the last days in Moscow). Penza Oblast has followed the Moscow Oblast’s exampe (around 170 cases on the last days) and has also completely prohibited the presence of spectators in sporting events — the local Diesel HC’s matches won’t have fans.

Is Tatarstan the last bulwark?

Unlike Moscow, the Moscow region, Saint Petersburg or even neighbouring Bashkiria, Tatarstan still keep the as big number of spectators as possible. Today the occupancy rate of stands in Kazan and in other cities of the republic is allowed to be up to 70%, no matter if the venue is covered or open.

But we should remind you that Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov hinted at a meeting in the Tatarstan Cabinet of Ministers as early as 7 November that the authorities might cancel such a democratic approach. Talking about the Moscow restrictions, he noted that the introduction of such measures in the republic wasn’t planned yet, though he didn’t exclude them:

“Never say never. Moscow is planning to introduce total restrictions. At the moment we see that the situation is under control. We don’t have such plans. But if we don’t follow the measures, of course, it cannot be otherwise for sure,” Minnikhanov noted.

To clarify the situation, we contacted Tatarstan Sport Minister Vladimir Leonov. In a talk with Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent, the functionary said that his ministry still hoped to work in the previously planned regime, but they didn’t mean any changes like those introduced in Moscow and Moscow Oblast:

“Nowadays we at the moment of our talk are working within the decisions made and decrees, that’s to say, we let spectators go to the stands. But we will be looking at the dynamics. But we aren’t adopting new restrictions and novelties nowadays,” the Tatarstan sport minister stressed.

“This applies to both professional sport and smaller competitions. We keep working on both tournaments and attendance of sports schools. In other words, meeting all epidemiological measures, we let athletes in, we don’t postpone any classes, everything is operating as usual. Consequently, we are taking their temperature, controlling the mask regime... Everything follows the regulation we adopted earlier,” Leonov claimed.

Sport without spectators in Bashkiria. But not for professional clubs

Head of Bashkortostan Rady Khabirov made amendments to his decree On Introduction of Full Alert on the Territory of the Republic of Bashkortostan Due to the Threat of Spreading the Novel Coronavirus Infection (COVID-2019) as of 18 March 2020 as early as 19 October.

According to the new version of the document, the competitions included in the United Calendar of Interregional, All-Russia and International Sports Events of Russia’s Sport Ministry can be hosted if sanitary and epidemiological rules are strictly followed and if only there aren’t spectators.

At the same time, the document specifies that spectators were allowed to watch matches of Salavat Yulayev HC in KHL, Ufa FC in the Russian Premier League and “other matches of Russian championships among professional sports teams in 2020-2021” if the stands are 50% full.

“Other matches of Russian championships among professional sports teams” means that this includes not only the two flagships of Bashkir sport. In any case, the home match of Ufa’s Ural VC in the SuperLeague with Dinamo-LP (on 31 October) included spectators.

However, the full ban on spectators in the stands of Ufa Arena, Neftyanik stadium and other sports venues of Bashkiria where the number of new cases has reached 115 cases a day seems to be just a matter of time.

By Erik Dobrolyubov