Egypt’s Sports minister Ashraf Sobhi has announced that fans will be allowed to attend the 2021 World Men’s Handball Championship to be hosted by the country next year but the exact permitted capacity at venues has not been decided yet.
Speaking recently at a news conference, Sobhi said the number of allowed attendees was still under discussion.
Even before the coronavirus crisis, most sports events in Egypt were held behind closed doors due to security concerns. However, an exception is made for major events, with supporters allowed to attend last year’s African Cup of Nations.
“We are discussing this matter at the meantime. Fans might attend the matches with a 100% capacity or with the percentage of 2 to 1, which means there will be an empty seat between each spectator,” Sobhi said.
The minister also said strict health measures will be applied due to the pandemic.
“Preventive measures will include thermal examination, wearing masks, avoiding crowding, social distancing, using hand sanitizers in addition to procedures for dealing with positive cases that may appear during the tournament through cooperation with the Ministry of Health,” Sobhi explained.
Egypt will host the tournament for the second time in history between 13 and 31 January 2021 across four venues in Cairo and Alexandria namely: the Cairo Stadium Hall (34,700), the New Administrative Capital Hall (7,500), the 6th of October City Hall (5,300) and the Borg El Arab Hall (4,000).
The tournament will see the participation of 32 teams for the first time in the competition’s history.
The 32 teams will split in eight groups of four teams each, with the top three teams of each group reaches the second round.
The 24 teams will then be split in four groups of six teams, with the top two teams from each group will advance to the quarter-finals.
The Egyptian team finished 6th when Egypt hosted the tournament for the first time in 1999 and two years later the Pharaohs achieved their biggest success in the competition’s history when they finished 4th in France.
The draw on Saturday 5 September placed the hosts in Group G along with Sweden, Czech Republic, and a South American team that will be determined when their qualifiers are played.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak back in March, the South and North American qualification tournaments have been delayed to a later date.
Other notable groups in the draw include Group F, which consists of Algeria, Morocco, Iceland, and Portugal.
Tunisia have been placed in Group B alongside Poland, Brazil and Spain.
Angola will compete in Group C with Japan, Croatia and Qatar while the Democratic Republic of Congo will face Bahrain, Argentina and defending champions Denmark in Group D.
Debutants Cape Verde will battle Uruguay, Germany and Hungary in Group A.
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