British & Irish Lions v Japan crowd size at Murrayfield will hinge on ‘Scottish Government advice’

It is looking increasingly likely that the British & Irish Lions Test match against Japan at BT Murrayfield will be played in front of a significantly reduced crowd.

Edinburgh Rugby trio Hamish Watson, Duhan van der Merwe and Rory Sutherland at BT Murrayfield after their call-up for the Lions. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

The game, for The Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup, is a curtain-raiser for the summer tour of South Africa.

The Lions have announced a revised eight-match schedule for the tour in a statement released today.

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They have also confirmed that the Test match against Japan will go ahead at the 67,000-capacity stadium in Edinburgh as planned on June 26 but the attendance will hinge on advice from the Scottish Government

The statement said: “The British & Irish Lions Test match against Japan at BT Murrayfield Stadium on Saturday 26 June for The Vodafone Lions 1888 Cup will continue as scheduled.

“However, owing to the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic, a decision on crowd size will be made nearer the time of the event and in line with the latest Scottish Government guidance.”

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A “pre-sale” of tickets for the Murrayfield fixture began last November and supporters have been urged to visit the Lions website for more information.

The Scottish Government is taking a cautious approach to the return of supporters to stadiums.

It was announced on Thursday by the Scottish Football Association that only 600 supporters will be allowed to attend this season’s Scottish Cup final between Hibs and St Johnstone at Hampden on May 22.

The Scottish FA had approached the Scottish Government and requested that 2000 fans be accommodated using the approved Uefa Euro 2020 stadium seating template.

However, the Scottish Government insisted that a two-metre physical distancing configuration must be used, not the 1.5m configuration that will be in operation for Euro 2020. At two metre physical distancing, the number of spectators able to be hosted in the approved areas of the stadium reduces to 600 in total, so just 300 fans per club may attend the final.

Hampden is a host venue for the Euros and is currently being revamped ahead of hosting four matches, reducing the capacity significantly for the cup final. When the work is complete Hampden will be able to host 12,000 fans at each of the Euro matches, which include Scotland’s games against Czech Republic and Croatia.

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