New Zealand became one of the first countries to welcome back fans to sporting events this weekend. New Zealand was able to do so because of its success in eradicating the coronavirus.
This past weekend, rugby made its return in New Zealand, with full crowds allowed to cheer on their favorite clubs in person. Going forward, fans will be allowed to attend games in an unrestricted fashion in New Zealand.
Here's a look at the fans who took in live rugby for the first time in three months:
👏 "We are stronger together" 💪— Sky Sport NZ (@skysportnz) June 14, 2020
Absolute scenes today in Auckland, New Zealand as a sell-out @superrugbynz crowd united at Eden Park to celebrate being one of first countries in the world to allow fans to return to LIVE sport following the COVID-19 lockdown pic.twitter.com/NsU2je5Vif
On Sunday, 40,000-plus New Zealanders filled in the stands at Auckland's Eden Park for a game between the Auckland Blues and Wellington Hurricanes in the Super Rugby Aotearoa. Saturday's match between the Otago Highlanders and the Waikato Chiefs brought in an estimated 20,000 spectators at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Since overcoming the widespread transmission of the coronavirus, New Zealand has been able to lift all of its coronavirus shutdown mandates. On Monday, health officials in New Zealand said the last known COVID-19 infected person had made a recovery. The country, which has a total population of about five million, had just over 1,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases and a total of 22 deaths. New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern placed a strict lockdown the country for four weeks, starting on March 25.
Sports have returned in other countries, but they have been played mostly without any fans in attendance. Taiwan's professional baseball league (CPBL) started its season with empty ballparks, but has slowly been able to allow fans to attend games, with social distancing guidelines in place and only up to a 50 percent capacity.