Fans could watch Wales Six Nations games, PM says

A decision on whether fans will be able to attend the home matches of the Guinness Six Nations Championship for Wales will be made in the coming weeks, Mark Drakeford said.

Restrictions imposed on sporting events in Wales by the Welsh government to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant mean that professional meetings are being held behind closed doors.

The prime minister said he hoped the waves of Omicron variant infections would abate as quickly as they had increased – meaning the Six Nations could move forward as planned.

“Of course we would all much prefer to be in a position where the Six Nations could move forward with people watching the game here in Wales,” said Mr Drakeford.

“It is not a matter of dispute between the parties. The question that is under the microscope is whether we can do it safely.

“For the number of people who get sick with the virus to be so high that adding more to that risk just wouldn’t be a responsible thing to do.

“We won’t know, I know it’s really tough when you’re hosting a major event and you’re under time pressure, but we won’t find out for the next few weeks.

“But we will be watching this very carefully and like I said, as soon as we can make a decision, we will make a decision, but the decision will be made for reasons of public safety and public health safety.

“At the end of the day, that has to be the primary consideration for the government.”

Wales is currently subject to Alert Level 2 restrictions, which means only 50 people can participate in organized outdoor activities, such as amateur sports, but for elite level events spectators are prohibited.

Scotland are due to play Wales in Cardiff on February 12 and the Welsh RFU have explored alternatives, if crowds are not allowed to attend.

Wayne Pivac’s side are also set to face France on March 11 at the Principality stadium, and Italy eight days later.

In England there are currently no restrictions to attending sporting events, but for those hosting more than 10,000 people, spectators must show proof of double vaccination or a negative lateral flow test.

The financial implications of home games behind closed doors for the Welsh Rugby Union would be significant.

They faced a similar situation for last season’s tournament, with the shutters closed for Cardiff’s clashes with Ireland and England.

Mr Drakeford told a Welsh government briefing that reviews of the restrictions were happening on a weekly basis.

“Decisions about where to play matches ultimately rest with the Welsh Rugby Union, not the Welsh government,” said Mr Drakeford.

“I’m not criticizing the WRU for exploring all the options available to them.

“It’s a business and, as a responsible business, it seems to me that they have to look at all the different possibilities available to them.

“Whether they choose to go ahead and play games elsewhere with the undeniable risks that this would entail, if we were still in the eye of the coronavirus storm, I think you know a very debatable question. .

“But if I have a problem with them looking at the options available to them, no, I don’t.

“I think that’s perfectly legitimate for them as a multi-million pound organization that has to think about its business as well as its sporting interests.”

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