Welsh football fans are converging on Baku for the team’s Euro 2020 games – despite warnings from ministers not to travel because of coronavirus concerns.
Wales will play Switzerland in the capital of Azerbaijan on Saturday in their first match in the delayed Euro 2020 finals. On Wednesday they will play Turkey, also in Baku.
A special Wizz Air flight departed from Cardiff airport carrying around 120 fans. One of them was Lloyd Griffiths, who has spent £2,000 on the trip.
“Just to stand in the stadium, sing the anthem, support your country – it’s worth every single penny,” he told Good Morning Britain.
Tim Hartley tweeted from Baku: “It was remarkably easy in the end if a tad expensive.”
Fans have been told they need not be vaccinated – but ministers are urging supporters to stay away because of the Covid risks.
Many are following the advice. On Twitter, Daniel Humphries wrote: “Should be off on a European tour today, Istanbul, Tbilisi, Baku, Vienna, Milan and Rome! Bloody Covid.”
The Foreign Office has updated its travel advice to say: “Foreign nationals entering Azerbaijan must have been vaccinated against Covid 19, however Uefa Euro 2020 ticket holders are exempt from this ruling
“Instead, fans can produce negative PCR tests taken within 72 hours of departure to Baku.”
But the Foreign Office also warns against “all but essential travel to the whole of Azerbaijan based on the current assessment of Covid-19 risks”.
The match was first scheduled for June 2020, but the whole tournament was postponed. Thousands of fans had tickets for the original fixture, but only around 500 are expected to travel out for the rearranged game.
The Football Association of Wales and the first minister, Mark Drakeford, have urged fans to stay at home to avoid importing coronavirus on their return.
Returning supporters must take a pre-departure test, two post-arrival PCR tests and self-isolate for 10 days once back in Wales.