RIYADH: Saudi Arabia waived its requirement for visitors to be fully vaccinated to allow soccer players from Spain to compete in the Spanish Super Cup on Saudi soil, sources have told Reuters.
Full vaccination is mandatory to enter the kingdom according to guidelines on the government website.
Yet three sources close to the matter said exceptions were made after the Spanish Football Association negotiated with local authorities to allow all players and staff from Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao and Atletico Madrid to make the trip and play in the tournament, which runs from 10 to 16 January.
Brazil coach Tite announced on Thursday that he was leaving Atletico Madrid defender Renan Lodi out of his squad for the next two World Cup qualifiers because the player has not had a full course of Covid-19 vaccines.
Lodi is currently in Saudi Arabia where Atletico Madrid will play Athletic Bilbao later on Thursday in the second semi-final of the revamped Super Cup.
A source close to the player told Reuters that he has had the first dose of the vaccine and is scheduled to take the second on 31 January. The source said Lodi had not been vaccinated previously because he had contracted C0vid-19.
In Madrid, where Lodi is based, the waiting period to be vaccinated against the virus after contracting Covid-19 was six months up until August 2021. It has been one month since then.
Lodi tested positive for Covid-19 in April 2020.
Health and sports requirements
“All our players and members of the expedition meet the health and sports requirements that have been requested to enter the country and play the competition, as they do in the rest of the competitions in which we participate,” Atletico said in a short statement.
Saudi authorities have not responded to a request for comment.
The Spanish FA (RFEF) declined to comment on the Lodi situation, or say if any other player or staff member who was not fully-vaccinated had entered Saudi Arabia.