The decision to stage the Cheltenham Festival and Liverpool’s Champions League tie against Atletico Madrid in March 2020 has been linked to 78 deaths, a report by MPs into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has found.
The report said the early handling of the crisis was one of the worst public health failures in UK history, adding it was a “serious early error” not to introduce the first national lockdown sooner.
When the match at Anfield took place on March 11, 2020 – the same day WHO declared coronavirus to be a pandemic – there had been a big spike in Covid-19 cases in Madrid, with schools and colleges shut down and all domestic matches being played behind closed doors.
In spite of this, 3,000 Atletico fans were allowed to travel to Liverpool to watch the match, along with 50,000 home supporters.
Analysis suggests an additional 37 people died at hospitals in the vicinity after the game.
In the same week, Cheltenham Festival was also allowed to go ahead, attracting more than 250,000 people over a four-day period. The report cites evidence that 41 people died as a result.
MPs say it is not clear if these deaths were a direct result of being at the events themselves, or whether they came from associated activities like travelling or people congregating in pubs.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the first national lockdown 10 days after Cheltenham Festival.