Iran hopes football fans can return to stadiums deserted by the coronavirus pandemic for nearly two years starting from a Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifier against South Korea in early October.
President of the Iranian Football Federation Shahaboddin Azizi Khadem said on Tuesday that fans fully vaccinated against the coronavirus may be able to enter Tehran’s iconic Azadi stadium for the match planned for October 12.
“It is possible that we would be able to allow entry to vaccinated fans holding special cards for the match against South Korea,” said Azizi Khadem while insisting that a final decision on the issue would depend on talks with the Asian Football Confederation.
Iran banned spectators from all sport events in March 2020 in the early days of the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
The Azadi stadium normally hosts around 100,000 fans in popular matches including games involving the Iranian national football team.
Azizi Khadem said, however, that a first home match from the second round of the World Cup qualifiers in Asia between Iran and Syria would be held in Azadi stadium on September 2 without the presence of the spectators.
Iran has been grappling with one of the harshest outbreaks of the coronavirus in the Middle East. Vaccinations against the disease has accelerated this month after it got off to a slow start in late December.
Iranian health ministry figures published on Tuesday showed that total number of vaccinations carried out against the disease in Iran had reached nearly 22 million of which around 5.5 million were second shots.
Same figures showed that daily death toll from the coronavirus in Iran had reached an all-time record of 709 from a caseload of 40,623 recorded over the past 24 hours.