In pictures: Suzuki Cup kicks off with more than 7,500 spectators, the largest in-person gathering since COVID-19 pandemic began
SINGAPORE: The ASEAN Football Federation (AFF) Suzuki Cup 2020 kicked off the tournament on Sunday (Dec 5) with double-header matches at the National Stadium and 7,588 spectators in attendance for the Singapore versus Myanmar game, the largest in-person gathering for any event in Singapore since the pandemic began.
The last edition of the AFF Championship in 2018 saw about 750,000 fans turn up for the 26 games played in multiple cities across ASEAN, but the following installation of the biennial football competition was postponed last year due to the pandemic.
This year’s event, held by sole host country Singapore, was markedly distinct from the previous years’, largely due to the curtailed number of spectators allowed as well as the myriad of safe management measures in place.
The turnout to watch the Lions play at home after more than two years was a far cry from the crowds that thronged the games three years ago: Only a maximum of 10,000 fans were allowed to catch the game at the 55,000-capacity National Stadium – which is one of the two venues for the tournament.
Second venue Bishan Stadium will admit a maximum of 1,000 spectators, despite its 6,000-seat capacity.
These prevailing rules apply for the rest of the matches that are expected to run from Dec 5 to Jan 1 at both venues.
Despite having to keep their masks and be seated a metre apart, the energy of the crowd was not dampened: Fans could be seen excitedly cheering, waving banners and Singapore flags, and chanting enthusiastically to support the Lions.
In the first half of the match, the excitement was palpable as one section of the stadium started doing the Kallang Wave.
Here’s a look at how spectators attended their first in-person football match in two years whilst navigating safe distancing measures.