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No COVID-19 test for world cup fans
The World Cup is the most prestigious association football tournament in the world, as well as the most widely viewed and followed single sporting event in the world - Photo. Pixabay

Qatar is to drop pre-arrival COVID-19 tests before the World Cup, the Health Ministry said on Wednesday (Oct 26), weeks after announcing that the million-plus incoming fans do not need vaccinations.

The latest relaxation will take effect on Nov. 1, 19 days before the first World Cup on Arab territory starts on Nov. 20.

The arriving fans, players, officials, staff and media are by far the biggest influx of visitors seen in gas-rich Qatar, which has a population of just 2.9 million.

“Visitors are no longer required to present a negative COVID-19 PCR or Rapid Antigen Test result before traveling to Qatar,” a statement said.

Qatari citizens and residents will also no longer need to take a PCR or rapid antigen test within 24 hours of returning from abroad, the ministry added.

The 29-day tournament will be the first major global sporting event with fans since the coronavirus pandemic erupted in December 2019, killing more than 6 million people.

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus - Photo. Shutterstock

The World Cup is the most prestigious association football tournament in the world, as well as the most widely viewed and followed single sporting event in the world.

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Due to Qatar's intense summer heat, this World Cup will be held from late-November to mid-December, making it the first tournament not to be held in May, June, or July and to take place in the northern autumn; it will be played in a reduced timeframe of around 29 days.

Last year’s delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics took place largely behind closed doors, and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics was held in a bio-secure bubble.

Qatari organizers and football’s governing body, FIFA, have said they want the event to be a sign the world is getting over the devastating pandemic.

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But the Health Ministry has previously warned that special measures would be ordered “in the event of a worsening pandemic situation in the country,” such as the emergence of a threatening new variant.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup, scheduled to take place in Qatar from 20 November to 18 December 2022, will be the first World Cup ever to be held in the Arab world, and the second World Cup held entirely in Asia after the 2002 tournament in South Korea and Japan.

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