The deciding games of the monthlong European soccer championship have for years been planned for London, where Wembley Stadium is set to host both semifinals and the final of the quadrennial event next month.
Only weeks before the Euro 2020 final, though, organizers and the British government are discussing exemptions to pandemic travel restrictions that would allow thousands of overseas supporters — and as many as 2,500 V.I.P.s — to attend the games in London.
If an agreement, or a compromise, cannot be reached, UEFA, the governing body for European soccer that runs the championship, has not ruled out moving the final to another country.
“There is always a contingency plan but we are confident that the final week will be held in London,” UEFA said in a statement.
Both sides had thought the coronavirus infection rates would have fallen by the time the tournament’s deciding games were to be played at Wembley in early July. Instead, case numbers are surging in England, largely because of a new and aggressive variant of the virus, and that led Prime Minister Boris Johnson to postpone lifting the final restrictions on social distancing that had been planned for June 21.
That delay already means that any hopes of playing in front of capacity crowds at Wembley have been dashed; it has already been announced that the 90,000-seat stadium instead will operate at only half its capacity for the two semifinals and final. The stadium — one of 11 being used across Europe — is allowing only 22,500 fans for three group-stage games being played there.
Privately, officials on both sides expressed confidence that a compromise can be found to keep the game in Britain, though news reports have said that Budapest, the only host stadium operating at full capacity during the Euros, is being considered as a fallback option.
In other news from around the world:
Canada announced on Friday that it would extend its restrictions barring nonessential travel at the U.S. border by one month, until at least July 21. “Our No. 1 priority as we fight Covid-19 is keeping Canadians safe,” said Bill Blair, the public safety minister. The border policy, which was coordinated with Washington, has been continually extended throughout the pandemic, and all nonessential travelers are currently barred from entry. Only 15 percent of Canada’s population is fully vaccinated.
Spain will drop its requirement to wear face masks outdoors as of June 26, removing one of the restrictions that had been in place since the country was first hit by the pandemic in March 2020. “Our streets, our faces will recover their normal aspect in the coming days,” said Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.
Raphael Minder contributed reporting.
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