New COVID-19 Restrictions in Netherlands Will Eliminate ISL Spectators

Update: the Netherlands Prime Minister has officially announced the new rules, which includes allowing amateur and professional sports to continue, but behind closed doors. This means that no more spectators will be allowed at ISL meets, at least during the Playoff. The ISL has not announced a plan to refund ticket holders.

The Netherlands is expected to announce a three week partial lockdown on Friday evening that will include eliminating spectators at sporting events. The news comes amid record case numbers in the Netherlands.

That becomes important, because the International Swimming League is currently holding its Playoff rounds, leading into the season finale, in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

Tickets were originally sold for the event for 5 Euros to 25 Euros ($6 to $29). The capacity for the venue was set at 1,500 (out of a possible 3000 seats). It has always been a challenge to get accurate attendance numbers from the league, though day 1 television angles didn’t look or sound like there were 1,500 in attendance.

In Italy, other than for matches involving the home team Aqua Centurions (with their local superstar Federica Pellegrini), SwimSwam’s Giusy Cisale said that spectators appeared to be primarily friends and family.

While the ticket sales from 1,500 spectators weren’t going to make-or-break the financials on a league that Konstantin Grigorishin says is costing him about $25 million to operate this season, they can contribute to the overall feel of excitement in the meet – which was a little flat on the first day of Playoff #1.

Other measures expected to go into effect on Saturday include closing bars and restaurants early at 8:00 PM local time, while non-essential shops, casinos, hairdressers, sex workers, and saunas will have to close at 6:00 PM local time. The spectator ban would most significantly impact Netherlands’ soccer World Cup qualifier against Norway on November 16. Officials are reportedly still weighing options for cinemas and theatres, as well as limiting the COVID “green pass” to only those who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID, and no longer allowing for negative tests.

The new measures are expected to take effect on Saturday evening.

The measures will be the strictest in Western Europe since the summer according to local broadcasters and come amid a resurgence in cases in the region.

The country reported 16,287 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, the most recorded since the pandemic began, and are seeing a record 7-day average of over 12,000 new cases. In the country of 17.5 million, that comes out to about 69 new cases/100,000 residents per day.

The Netherlands lifted most of its social distancing guidelines in late September, and shortly thereafter cases began to rise. While deaths have begun to rise, they have not yet reached record levels that were seen last winter.

Deaths are often a lagging indicator behind cases, though a relatively-high vaccination rate (75.6% of the country have received at least one dose of vaccine) could help reduce deaths and hospitalizations amid the surge in cases.

The country is currently averaging about 23 deaths per day from COVID-19, off a peak of about 107 deaths per day in January 2021.


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8 months ago

The cost of the tickets is peanuts compared to what is currently owed. Simple math. A man whose net worth is estimated at barely $150m and plunging can hardly afford to go on giving away 20-25 million a year on what happens to be an unprofitable project with bad execution. Mr. Konstantin is being guided by his fanciful ambitions that far outweigh his resources. He might as well cut his losses, pay off every dollar and wrap up this gig with some dignity. Queueing payments until better times is a questionable tactic. I mean, there’s only so much money you can drain from Ukraine at these times.

Then again, the whole lockdown situation could have been foreseen and adjusted… Read more »

9 months ago

Well all those refunds are certainly not gonna help athletes get paid.

Reply to  Troyy
8 months ago

*if* there are refunds.

ISL Spectator
Reply to  Troyy
8 months ago

Exactly the reason why I doubt I am getting a refund

Awsi Dooger
9 months ago

Many of the Dutch track and field athletes are very active on social media and YouTube. They were on holiday in September through October. In those photos and videos it was glaring that nobody was wearing masks and nobody was social distancing. What could possibly go wrong? I’ve never understood how anyone thought a global pandemic could be treated like hurricane season, where you know the beginning and end.

Reply to  Awsi Dooger
9 months ago

Feedback I’ve heard from athletes there is that neither the Dutch nor the ISL take protocols very seriously.

TBH – they should’ve just left it in Italy.

9 months ago

So what happens to those who have already bought tickets? When will they know if they should show up or not? What does “restrictions on spectators” mean?

Reply to  yardfan
9 months ago

got my tickets not long ago, still no news

9 months ago


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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