Sweden to Give ‘Elite eSports Athletes’ Coronavirus Travel Ban Exemption

LEIPZIG, GERMANY - JANUARY 25: Visitors watch a game of an e-sport tournament `Dota 2` during the digital festival DreamHack Leipzig on January 25, 2020 in Leipzig, Germany. DreamHack combines a variety of digital entertainment, including e-sport tournaments, LAN parties, Pokemon competitions and virtual reality presentations, as well as a …
Jens Schlueter/Getty Images

Sweden has decided to grant exemptions to the county’s Wuhan coronavirus travel ban for eSports “athletes” entering the country from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA).

The exemptions to “elite” eSports competitors come after criticism that the government allowed travel exemptions for elite athletes in regular sports but not eSports, as eSports are not affiliated with the Swedish National Sports Federation.

According to a report from Swedish broadcaster SVT, the government was heavily criticised for its policy as it led to a major competition for the videogame DOTA 2 being moved from Stockholm to Bucharest.

Sweden’s Culture Minister Amanda Lind, a member of the Green Party,  had previously said that she hoped to save future eSports tournaments set to be held in Sweden

Interior Minister Mikael Damberg of the Social Democrats commented on the new policy, saying: “This exception is important in order for us to increase the opportunities to conduct elite international competitions in eSports in Sweden.”

According to SVT, the government is hoping the new policy will make sure that large tournaments, such as the upcoming CS:GO-Majors tournament set for the autumn, will remain in Sweden and not move abroad.

Many countries have introduced exemptions from travel restrictions during the pandemic for elite athletes and others. In June, for example, the British government announced that business elites would be given exemptions from needing to quarantine like ordinary travellers.

“This exemption is designed to enable activity that creates and preserves British jobs and investment, while taking steps to ensure public health risks are minimised,” the Boris Johnson administration claimed in a statement.

The move was criticised across the political spectrum, with former London Assembly member David Kurten, a noted lockdown sceptic, saying: “If there were a deadly killer virus that needs travel restrictions for all, there would be no exceptions.”

Left-wing Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who has called on people to keep wearing masks after the end of the mask mandate, also slammed the idea, saying it was the “wrong move at the wrong time. It can’t be one rule for the rich and another for the rest.”

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com

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