Sports events 'shut down too late to save lives'

A top scientist criticises the staging of the Cheltenham Festival and Liverpool's Champions League tie.

5/31/2020 9:36:00 PM

Two major sporting events held in the UK in March 'caused increased suffering and death', the scientist leading the UK's largest Covid-19 tracking project concludes

A top scientist criticises the staging of the Cheltenham Festival and Liverpool's Champions League tie.

Melanie Finn left the Cheltenham Festival early because of concerns about coronavirusIrish journalist Melanie Finn recalls the stark difference in approach on either side of the Irish Sea, as she flew in to the Cheltenham Festival from Dublin."We had already cancelled the St Patrick's Day celebrations, and that in itself was huge for us," she said.

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"People were in shock. No-one could believe that was happening. That was an indicator of how serious the Irish government was. When we flew out of Dublin Airport it was literally like a ghost town."Melanie said that racegoers at Cheltenham, on the other hand, believed the UK government would have cancelled the event if they had thought it was unsafe.

She said people ignored basic safety rules:"It was like the last days of the Roman Empire, and I think there was a little bit of a sense that if it was open, by God they were going to party."She was so concerned by what she saw that she asked her employer to fly her home midway through the festival.

A week later she developed the symptoms of Covid-19 and had to take two weeks off work.The Jockey Club had previously defended the decision to go ahead with the festival,telling the Guardian on 2 Aprilthat it had followed"clear and ongoing guidance" from the government and science experts.

It added:"We promoted the latest public health advice and introduced a range of additional hygiene measures at the event, including hundreds of hand sanitiser dispensers and extra wash basins."On 11 March - the second day of the festival - the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a pandemic.

'Jumping all over each other'Later that evening, Liverpool hosted Atletico Madrid in a Champions League football match at Anfield.Around 3,000 visiting fans were allowed to travel to Merseyside and mingle in bars and restaurants, despite the fact Madrid was the epicentre of the outbreak in Spain, and at that point accounted for almost half of the country's confirmed cases.

Liverpool supporter Joel Rookwood, who has been ill for eight weeks, believes he contracted Covid-19 that evening, and recalled how when goals were scored, spectators were oblivious to the risk of transmitting the virus."The celebrations were some of the most physical that I've experienced," he said."People were jumping all over each other."

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The Spirit Of Shankly, a Liverpool supporters group, said it raised concerns about the arrival of fans from Madrid at a council-chaired safety meeting two days before the match but were told it would go ahead in accordance with government advice.But Liverpool FC would not have been able to unilaterally call off the match - to decide which of the two clubs progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals. That decision would have had to come from one of football's governing bodies, such as the competition's organiser Uefa.

Prof Spector said:"I think sporting events should have been shut down at least a week earlier because they'll have caused increased suffering and death that wouldn't otherwise have occurred."In a statement, the government said:"There are many factors that could influence the number of cases in a particular area, including population density, age, general health, and the position of an area on the pandemic curve."

To hear more on this story listen to File on 4 - Game Changer: How the UK played on during coronavirus on Tuesday 26 May at 20:00 BST onBBC Radio 4. Read more: BBC News (UK) »

BBCSport BORE Off ffs .... data? Remember thinking at the time why Cheltenham was allowed to much money involved! campbellclaret Hooray, the horseracing’s back on! Again & again the BBC provoke controversy to create news! The 2nd man here says we had been in 'lockdown for a month' when Cheltenham festival occurred, utter twoddle! Long gone are the days when people could rely on the BBC reporting factual, unbias news. Utter Disgrace!

campbellclaret The rugby international at Twickenham which BorisJohnson attended with his pregnant girlfriend probably caused a similar amount of fatalities unnoticed amongst the general high rate in London Also fuelled by uncontrolled arrivals through Heathrow . Criminal negligence Ofcom the title of this clip and the content are poles apart.

campbellclaret Here's a good idea......let's do it again ! campbellclaret Inquiry needed! BBCSport If we’d started the lockdown in November we’d have no deaths 🙄 BBCSport There was no partial lock down on 11th March in Spain. BBCSport And just what do Liverpool City Council think their pitiful investigation will achieve, other than wasting taxpayers money on a bureaucratic, pointless & time wasting exercise ?

They had the choice weather to go or not no one forced them to goto these events with thousands of other people the virus was all over the news by then!!! BBCSport Where's the fact based evidence because it simply looks like a money grabbing exercise by 'a scientist'. Thousands of Irishmen attended Cheltenham & the Republic continued racing after the UK stopped & yet compared to the UK, Ireland has the lowest infection & mortality rate.

campbellclaret But Johnson says it didn't.. I wonder who is right campbellclaret Odd how two days before Cheltenham a Rugby International played at Murrayfield attended by 68000 people. Perhaps because that was down to Scots Government and saint Nicola Sturgeon it’s ignored. You interview 2 people out of 300,000 people that went to Cheltenham n Anfield 🤦🏼🤦🏼 and you come up with that headline!!

There was an event held in Glasgow also with 50,000 in attendance. And supporters from Germany or does that not count What about music concerts that were not cancelled? Dido Harding Firstly Spanish fans were segregated from British fans. Secondly the only people hugging and kissing each other would have been the supporters of each team respectively. I have never hugged and kissed a supporter of an away club. Thirdly, it sounds a bit quick to show symptoms.

Very quick to use the blame game in U.K.. The events happened let’s move on . campbellclaret So let’s restart sporting events now then hey! Oh and let’s easy the lockdown and take parts that were meant to happen at level 1 and do them level 4. Great plan! Away fans congregate at Williamson Square in Liverpool City centre,on 11th March 2020,after leaving my business I walked threw so many atletico madrid fans in Williamson Sq,had no health problems whatsoever since.

So not shutting airports or public transport cause less of an effect than two sporting events get a grip simonrug Not 'mistake', 'negligence'. helmut_herberth Best we ban competitive sport. jasondavies71 Cheltenham, organised by the jockey club, who’s on the board? didoharding , let that sink in Those that are terrified and hiding behind the sofas fine you deal with that, the rest of us who want to get on with life, let us carry on....... this is just media and government BS to dumb down the population

Dear Beloved Community ❤️ This is a very useful Information about COVID-19 (Sars.CoV.2) - It brings enlightenment for people who have no idea about the New Corona Virus, please help me out with this and retweet it. 🙏🫂🤔 Everyone knew it was risky. Many of them got infected. Money talks. Also Crufts went ahead days before cheltenham with thousands of foreigners over the 4 days

Balr0g Two major sporting events held in ENGLAND in March 'caused increased suffering and death', the scientist leading the UK's largest Covid-19 tracking project concludes FixedItForYou AnnPettifor here is the full BBC Radio File on 4 programme which presented this , excellent in depth analysis and reporting.

BorisJohnson Silly Question to be asking! How can people compare life and death with football? Where is the priority? Morality? Absolutely in sane. MattHancock CMO_England Yet more scaremongering drivel from the BBC. EndLockdownNow EndCovidScamNow just fuk off bbc news;yer anti horse racing anyway;it's great to see it bak on 2mr🐎👌!

Always blame the victim, not China and WHO. Nobody had to go to these events. You criticise the Government regardless. Individual responsibility comes into it. People travel from all over to Cheltenham particularly Ireland, was there an issue there? They'll be saying the same about scenes at many beaches today in two months time also!

Really says who What about the millions on tubes? Stereophonics concert? danroan Let's talk about the science Because 1000's have been congregating up and down the UK this weekend on every beach and in every park.... The science is surely saying there will be a massive 2nd spike... Because the virus is still out there isn't it, and we have no vaccine 🤔

campbellclaret Yet none of them will hold their hands up, apologise or face criminal charges The article uses the word 'probably', and the phrase 'no way of knowing for certain', so actually then, it's just more BBC bollocks. I'm not saying they should have gone ahead, but you should at least use some facts.

BBCSport ITV money spinner.... drag them into it if you dare Death seems to follow Liverpool around. 🤔🤨 campbellclaret But that was a few months ago so we can repeat it again now, danroan Thanks to scalpers I escaped that risk getting contagd when I saw the price tag for a n ordinary ticket upwards to 1000 pounds and I got rid of the idea to come and see the game :)

campbellclaret Any mention of the eight million pub visits that were made between Cheltenham ending and lockdown starting? BBCSport Hindsight And how do you know that? Impossible to. BBCSport propaganda Which Conservatives minister gave these events the go ahead? They killed ppl. What back handers were paid to the Tories

So, who permitted them to proceed? On whose advice? ToryLies ToryBritain Everyone had a choice to go! Didn’t everyone have a choice to go or not. Even if the gov said it was safe I wouldn’t have gone to either of those events if I’d had tickets. Do we all have to be told what to do and not make our own choices

BBCSport What a melt Carlaw, Tory heid honcho in Scotland As you've been bumping your gammon gums for a public inquiry into the Nike Conference in Edinburgh, attended by a hundfull I fully support your calls for a public inquiry into these deadly debacles & the Tory Leader at Westminster BBCSport No the problem isn’t sports the problem is China they should have lock themselves down early and ban all traveling activities...

How else were we to get herd immunity? What about stereophonics concerts? That story is so old and filled with 'may have' and 'probably'. More holes than a sieve. At that time Germany and France as well as UK did not have Lockdown. Easy to have the answers when your a paid expert after the event. 5 million people were still getting on the tube traveling here their and everywhere those events are a drop in the ocean!

Are we gonna turn back time so they don’t happen? 🤷‍♂️ So the two million a day, travelling in and out of London , weren’t the reason ? I do not see any actual data or evidence behind this story. London infection rate way ahead of Liverpool and Cheltenham. Finding individuals with CV19 is not data. I smell BS.

Bollocks, if they had gone thru he wouldn’t be mentioning it. Nonce So what do you think the result of today's protests in London will be? The former was supported by science - today's protests were warned against forcefully by all scientists and politicians. Will there be fines? Arrests? BBCSport This was reported days ago wasn't it?

BBCSport This looks like propaganda to me by a labour council looking to score politics points. Maybe the protests should be called off too for the same reason no? Including Scotland v France and Cheltemham festival The clowns protesting in London today will not have helped matters - expect the numbers to go up again in the weeks ahead

Guess who received some large donations from Tattersalls to run his office? MattHancock presumably involved in the decision to delay lockdown until after Cheltenham. brexit_sham Remember, the government was far too slow to act and failed to stop these going ahead. The Tories screwed up, the 'increased suffering and death' is their fault. BorisTheButcher BloodOnTheirHands

BBCSport Some venues eventim_uk carried on with events even though they knew it wasn't really safe and now refuse to refund the sensible people who stayed away SPBauthor ajsay Shock fcuking horror. Boris and his little gang, will retire in a few years, with cushti jobs and wages. Nothing ever happens to the elite. So who gives a fcuk

it's gone, get over q BBCSport Any news on why the MP wanted Cheltenham to proceed? 42136 at Leipzig v Spurs on 10th March. In Germany, the paragon of all things done correctly apparently. BBCSport Was happy to go along to the game though? BBCSport well done bbc we told you this 10 weeks ago if only you stood up against govt then

Yes but you still went to the Arsenal match at the same time,you cock I’m sceptic about this ‘research’. Mainly because I went to Cheltenham on the Friday on a coach load of 50 from N Oxon. Also GWSR ran 4 trains a day into the racecourse with volunteers 60+. 30k also from Ireland. Haven’t seen any +ve cases from any of those? How was data compiled

Hindsight is marvellous Unequivocal proof that the disgusting corrupt Media is more dangerous than any fucking virus, their purpose is always to incite fear , control and infighting amongst us - will you let them ? Have you now learnt your lesson? georgiej22 Obviously. And it's about to happen all over again

The marches today for Black Lives Matter will have caused many many more So incredibly wise after the event. Yes the decision should have been taken out of the public’s hand as the some of the public are fucking stupid and have no common sense. Especially group led chanting football fans. You knew what was happening but still went - feeling guilty now - you should be.

Had the government stopped the events they would have been criticised, (by the usual group), and accused of being heavy handed in the least and draconian at worst. They should never have gone ahead Who did did test track and trace back then to inform on this? In place now for those protesters in London and others not keeping their distances, on beaches etc. maybe? Why might people not act their best for you and yours and for all of us.

Funny how Ireland had such low death rate seeing as 1,000’s attended Cheltenham 🙄 No proof anyone caught it at that match, more anti govt bias. Saying that if it was a mistake unfortunately mistakes will happen with such sn unprecedented situation. Tories: 'Cool, let's do that again in June!' Where’s the evidence? Cases were increasing expediently at that time, so show the proof!

is this a repeat or are you on a delay? this was announced the other week. I'm so bored, along with the majority of the population, with this sort of BS. Even if it's true, hindsight is a wonderful thing. If you said ban events like this in February ,then fair enough. If not ,shut the fuck up. Seen Trafalgar square?

Proof. kyeboah__ You were all just part of a grand, organized, sociological experiment named COVID-19! I hope they got all the data they wanted! REVOLT. -_- Great article Yet have failed to ask the question why didoharding, member of TheJockeyClub board who own and failed to cancel Cheltenham, is the right person to guide the track and trace system. Why don't you ask didoharding for a comment or are you protecting Tories!

Cheltenham races should have been a no go! Why.... what a shock. Scousers claiming it wasn’t their fault and blaming the govt!! 7 more crimes committed by the Government = 1. poor PPE; 2. low testing; 3. over use of DNAR's; 4. inappropriate ventilation; 5. falsifying death certificates & stats; 6. emotional deprivation of dying patients & relatives; 7. discharging Covid-19 patients back into care homes.

Maybe the scientist should have a chat with Dido about Cheltenham. No mention of the thousands of people gathered in Trafalgar Square and central London today? Are they all immune? do we REALLY need that music Nobody mentions the League Cup Final at Wembley on March 1st? 90,000 there. Could this explain big outbreak in the midlands?

Well remember today, because when the second spike/wave comes, you will have to take responsibility for encouraging 1000s of people to march and not blame the govt for lifting lockdown too early because that’s tomorrow! AntifaScum AntifaTerrorists Totally agree but the flu has a vaccination available and still we have between 40,000 - 65,000 deaths each year in the UK ...... think about that for a moment !!!!

Just void it. Only fair. But Boris said stopping mass gatherings won't stop infections 🤔 Hindsight is a wonderful thing😢 We all know this ..I believe the advice was given to this government at the time That was pretty obvious ! If there is no vaccine found then who cares!!! It’s coming, and will not leave, untill all have had it. Useless information.

We remember being shocked thinking why are all these people going we could see China and Spain on the news it felt like herding was going on . But the people still went and we knew it was going to bring loads of deaths to people. How could it not at that time. It is incorrect to say that 251,000 people attended Cbeltenham. That was the attendance over the 4 days; many people will have attended more than 1 day, and some people attended all 4 days.

News media is more toxic and harmful to mental health than any virus. No shit, Sherlock! That was pretty obviously going to happen - it was all over the news, events being cancelled all over Europe - people who went knew there was a risk. Liverpool fans suffered when Atletico Madrid knocked them out of the Champions League many are still in shock.

It was all about money, not public safety particularly Cheltenham festival. A lot of people connected with that event are connected with the Tory party and Boris Johnson. A lot of money would have been lost by those people. Lives didn’t come into it. Yesterday it was announced that 'no contact' sport is to be allowed including rugby!! Am I daft cos I thought rugby was a contact sport?

Interesting how the Ibrox & Twickeham games have been deleted from history somehow...🤔🤔🤔 Twickenham Cheltenham Anfield Ibrox ofc they should have been called off, the govt decision line has been awful - note that when the game happened, italy was already in full lock down and Boris was talking of heard immunity...

That's soooo obviously obvious Government is not easy. Introducing a lockdown is not easy. Hindsight is easy. Criticising government is easy. Being publicly funded is easy. Well no one forced the Bellends to go 🤨 and no one has forced the Bellends visiting the crowded beaches this weekend either 🤨 the great stupid British public 😂😂😂

Greta Thunberg and the Climate rally in Bristol on Feb 28th. All those little darlings back from their half-term Italian ski holidays. Thank god they closed the London Underground before these two events . No sh!t No point in worrying now - they're already dead.

Groups of five can play sports together as more restrictions are relaxedBritish sport is in recovery as further restrictions were today relaxed by the government This will just increase the number of cases and delay the start of contact, grassroots football.

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