GENEVA (AP) — Fans going to the World Cup in Qatar must show a negative COVID-19 test when they arrive as part of the host nation’s rules to combat COVID-19, organizers said Thursday.
All visitors aged 18 and over must also download a government-run phone app that tracks people’s movements and health status, called Respect.
“A green badge (showing a user who does not have a confirmed case of COVID-19) is required to enter public closed indoor spaces,” World Cup organizers said.
Visitors must be able to show a negative result from a PCR test taken within 48 hours prior to arrival or from an official rapid test taken within 24 hours. The High Commission for Delivery and Legacy said in a statement that the policy for COVID-19 testing for visitors aged six and over is “regardless of individual vaccination status”.
The decisions extend the World Cup-wide public health policy that has been in place for all travelers to Qatar since September 4.
Vaccination is not mandatory for the 1.2 million expected visitors from Nov. 20 to Dec. 18 tournaments. In June 2021, the Qatari government proposed that vaccinations would be mandatory for fans at the World Cup.
Rapid antigen tests taken in the last 24 hours before landing in Qatar will only be accepted if they are from official medical centers and not self-administered. No further testing is required in Qatar if fans do not develop symptoms of COVID-19.
Masks must be worn on public transport, including the subway system that many fans will use to get to the eight stadiums around Doha.
FIFA said players and staff from the 32 World Cup teams will undergo rapid antigen tests every two days in Qatar, as will referees and match officials.
FIFA and the Qatari government “strongly advise all participants to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19,” the soccer governing body said on Thursday.
According to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the United States since 2020, Qatar has recorded nearly 450,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 682 deaths from the disease. Qatar’s population is estimated to be at least 2.5 million, although only 350,000 of them are Qatari citizens.
According to the data, more than 97% of the population in Qatar has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 in Qatar must be isolated in accordance with the Ministry of Public Health’s guidelines,” World Cup organizers said.
The 2022 World Cup will be played at full capacity stadiums – with around 3 million tickets sold for 64 matches – just 16 months after the European Championship was played across the continent with some stadiums only 25% full due to local COVID -19 due to the rules