Though the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is still more than a year away, organizers have announced that all attendees will need vaccinations to be admitted into matches. That announcement comes following a pledge from FIFA, soccer’s worldwide governing body, that the matches will be played in full stadiums.
Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani told Qatar newspaper editors of the requirement, noting, “Due to the possibility that some countries will not be able to vaccinate all their citizens, Qatar will not allow fans to enter stadiums without receiving a full vaccination against the virus.”
He did acknowledge that a number of countries are doing their part in his statement, and he added, “We are currently negotiating with a company to provide 1 million vaccine doses against the coronavirus for the immunization of those coming to the FIFA World Cup Qatar.”
The first match starts Nov. 21, 2022—pushed from its usual summer dates because of the Arab Peninsula’s unforgiving summer climate—involving 48 competing nations for the first time in its history and attracting a global coterie of fans.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino, speaking in March 2021, lauded Qatar for the job it’s done in managing audiences during the pandemic, and he looked for the tournament to be held in stadiums filled with suppoerters.
“We will see the best World Cup ever in November and December 2022 in Qatar,” Infantino said, via Goal. “The best World Cup ever means a World Cup with full stadiums. I am 100% sure about that.”
It is not yet clear if people who got vaccinations in 2021 will need to be revaccinated or receive booster shots between now and the start of the World Cup.
As the Associated Press noted, this World Cup has been dogged with controversy since the nation surprisingly won the FIFA vote in 2010, including “concerns about human rights violations and the treatment of the migrant workforce building the infrastructure,” which includes eight brand-new stadiums.
One nation, Norway, has even had its soccer federation vote to boycott the tournament should the team qualify, out of concern for the migrant worker conditions.
Forbes, in an article comparing the World Cup to other major sporting events, noted that the upcoming Tokyo-hosted Olympics, set to start July 23 after delaying its Opening Ceremonies for a full year, is limiting its audiences.
Officials are restricting spectators to 10,000 per event or 50% of capacity. While attendees won’t provide proof of either a negative test or vaccination, only Japanese citizens will be allowed in the arenas. International audiences won’t be.
In London, where the annual Wimbledon tennis tournament has resumed after being canceled last year, fans also need to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test to attend matches.