D.he fear of Corona has led to a novelty in handball: for the first time in the game of the highest Spanish league between Ademar Leon and Liberbank Cantabria (31:23) all players and the referees wore masks. The basis for this was a decision by the region of Castile and Leon, which was badly affected by the pandemic, according to which mouth and nose protection was to be worn during contact sports.
“That is completely absurd and a bad joke. I feel sorry for the players and referees involved. You can’t do professional sport like that, ”said Frank Bohmann, Managing Director of the Handball Bundesliga (HBL) when asked by SID. He assured: “Of course, this kind of handball game is not an option for us.”
Even during the game in Leon, the implementation problems became clear. “After just two minutes the masks were hanging elsewhere,” observed Bohmann. And as the game progressed, the masks kept slipping down. A relief for the players, because breathing through a mask is much more difficult, especially with physical strain, but certainly not the point of masking.
But as strange as the scenes from the world’s first handball game with the obligation to cover the mouth and nose for players and officials may seem – in view of the skyrocketing incidence figures, sport has to give thought in this country too. Hardly anyone speaks of the original plans to soon let more spectators into the arenas. In view of the enormous force of the second corona wave, the fear of a new lockdown is now more prevalent. “The scenario cannot be ruled out and depends very much on the further course of the new infection,” said Bohmann. As of now, he does not see the danger “for the next one or two weeks”.
But what comes next? Currently, the agreement of the federal states provides that the stadiums and halls may be filled with spectators with up to 20 percent of the capacity, as long as the so-called seven-day incidence does not exceed 35.0. If this happens, as can currently be observed in more and more German cities, the health authorities are allowed to completely exclude the audience. The survival of many clubs would (at the latest then) be acutely threatened.
“Professional sport as we know it in Germany would then no longer be feasible, and we would have to come up with new concepts at a completely different level of performance,” says Bohmann, whose league was one of the first to start with spectators at the beginning of October. This would be “a huge turning point for German sport and would set us far behind in competition.”
Bohmann advocates a “steadfast policy”. Far-sighted decisions are “existential”. “According to everything we know”, sport does not contribute to an increased number of infections. A conference with the European league federation and the continental federation EHF was scheduled for Monday afternoon for the HBL boss to exchange views on the situation in the individual countries and competitions. Bohmann is looking for a way out of the corona dilemma – it is not mandatory for athletes to wear a mask.