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‘Football-Ischgl’: Bayern eager to stop next coronavirus hotbed at Super Cup

Bayern Munich boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge insists the German giants are eager to stop Thursday's UEFA Super Cup showdown in Budapest turning into a super spreader event due to a high infection rate of the coronavirus there.

'Football-Ischgl': Bayern eager to stop next coronavirus hotbed at Super Cup
The Super Cup itself on display in Tallin, Estonia in August 2018. Photo: DPA

On Monday, Bavaria's premier minister Markus Söder warned against the match in Budapest becoming a “football-Ischgl”, referring to the Austrian ski resort where thousands of holidaymakers were infected with the virus at the beginning of the pandemic in Europe.

Söder added that amid the pandemic “I really get a stomach ache when it
comes to the Super Cup” between Bayern and Europa League holders Sevilla in
Budapest.

READ ALSO: Bavarian leader Söder has 'stomach ache' over Super Cup coronavirus fears

Rummenigge echoed Söder's comments on Wednesday, insisting Bayern Munich
have “every interest in ensuring that no Ischgl of football takes place” in Budapest.

“I think everyone's stomachs are churning. The game will take place in a city with an rate of infection of over 100 (per 100,000 inhabitants), which is twice as high as that in Munich,” Rummenigge told broadcaster ZDF.

“That has to be taken seriously.”

Up to 20,000 spectators would be allowed by UEFA into Budapest's Puskas Arena in a piloting project to test the return of fans into stadiums.

However, Budapest's mayor Gergely Karacsony wants the game played without
fans.

“If I had the legal means to decide that, I would let the game take place behind closed doors,” he told Hungarian newspaper Nepszava.

Rummenigge anticipates “less than a thousand” Bayern fans will actually make the journey and only around 500 Sevilla fans are expected.

“We have a great interest that they come back healthy and that nobody in Budapest gets infected,” emphasised Rummenigge.

He has promised a “serious and disciplined” approach with both Bayern and Sevilla offering travelling fans Covid-19 tests.

READ ALSO: 'Numbers are too high': Munich tightens coronavirus mask rules and contact restrictions

The Bayern chief also pointed out that to “all those who say that you really have to be extremely careful with the subject. We are”.

Bayern initially had an allocation of 4,500 tickets but hundreds of fans opted not to travel after the German government declared Budapest a risk zone.

European champions Bayern are also flying to Budapest with a small delegation of officials after being heavily criticised when a group of senior figures sat bunched together in the stands for Friday's 8-0 rout of Schalke.

Rummenigge was among the group not wearing masks and seated close together in the VIP stand for the opening game of the new Bundesliga season.

“At the next game we will keep the desired distance and wear masks, no problem,” said the 64-year-old.

READ ALSO: These are the countries and regions on Germany's 'high risk' coronavirus list

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COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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