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Karachi Cricket Match Will Mark First Return Of Spectators To Stadiums Since Pandemic

The Pakistani government has given permission to to allow 20 percent capacity inside some cricket stadiums. (file photo)

A Pakistan Super League match in Karachi between the Karachi Kings and Quetta Gladiators on February 20 will mark the first time that spectators will be allowed in cricket stadiums since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government has given permission to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) to allow 20 percent capacity inside stadiums for the premier Twenty20 league.

Proper social distancing will be required, as well as facemasks, officials said.

Under the restrictions, the National Stadium in Karachi will be allowed to welcome 7,500 fans, while Lahore's Qaddafi Stadium will accommodate 5,500 spectators.

"Without a crowd, there was no enjoyment," the Quetta Gladiators’ Sarfaraz Ahmed said.

"It’s the great news that we will be playing in front of our own crowds after a long time."

The PCB hosted two international series during the pandemic — against Zimbabwe and South Africa -- but stadiums were left empty. It also organized more than 200 domestic cricket matches in a bio-secure "bubble" setting.

For the Super League tournament, more than 120 players, 60 staff members, and 10-12 match officials will remain in a bio-secure bubble, officials said.

"COVID-19 and cricket can co-exist, provided we follow the proper protocols," PCB Chairman Ehsan Mani said.

Based on reporting by AP