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The City of Istanbul is due to hold the Champions League final on May 29, as Chelsea and Manchester City have booked a place in the final of the tournament.
A limited number of fans will attend the Champions League final at the Ataturk Stadium in Turkey, and fans of the two clubs will make a 4,000-mile round trip to a country with one of the highest average daily Covid-19 infection rates in Europe.
Public health experts have urged UEFA not to allow thousands of fans to travel across Europe to attend the Champions League final in Istanbul, where covid cases are sky high. Rather, that they can make a sensible decision to hold the final in the UK, and at the Wembley Stadium.
Turkish premier President Tayyip Erdogan ordered a ‘full lockdown’ of the country last week, which will last until May 17, in an attempt to drive the level of infection down, with schools closed and travel restricted. But there is still an exemption for international tourists as the country tries to hold on to a crucial source of revenue.
However, Professor Keith Neal, an expert in public health at the University of Nottingham, has claimed that it’s a crazy idea for the game to be held in Turkey.
“It’s crazy and unnecessary to have the game in Turkey,” said Professor Keith Neal.
“I think there is going to be serious problems. Turkey is a Covid hot zone and it is likely to remain so in May. You cannot see it being better in five weeks.”
The expert added: “And the disease rate in Istanbul itself, like all major population centres, will be higher. UEFA have not realised they have a problem.
“People will be travelling in crowded planes, passing through crowded airports and spending time in bars and restaurants. It is too risky.
“I would move the game. Move it to England where you can manage it better. You could move it to England for the two English teams.”
Meanwhile, UEFA reportedly told clubs at the quarter-final stage that 9,000 fans were expected to attend the final.
UEFA told The Athletic: “The Champions League final will take place in Istanbul on May 29 with a limited number of spectators and we are assured that the temporary lockdown which is in force until May 17 should not have any impact on the match.
“UEFA will continue to work closely with the Turkish Football Federation and the local and national authorities to stage the match safely.
“Further information regarding the capacity for the match and ticketing details will be communicated soon.”