Bullfighting with fans returned to Madrid for the first time since the start of the pandemic
MADRID – Bullfighting with fans returned to Madrid on Sunday for the first time since the start of the pandemic, with several thousand spectators allowed to enter the Las Ventas ring in the Spanish capital.
Regional authorities authorized the event, whose recipe is to help the bullfighting industry, which, like all activities with live audiences, has been hit hard by blocks and restrictions on the coronavirus.
Regional authorities have set a 40% occupancy limit for Madrid’s first bullfight in more than a year, meaning that up to 6,000 fans could attend. The fans assigned seats and had to wear masks all the time. The lineup included the best bullfighters Enrique Ponce and Julián “El Juli” López.
Last summer, bullfighting returned to southern Andalusia, Spain, with 50% occupancy, after the country’s total blockade during the worst months of the pandemic.
But the bullfighting moment in Madrid has political implications. In addition to falling for a regional holiday, it coincides with the last day of the official campaign for the important regional elections in Madrid on Tuesday.
The region’s conservative chief, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, is running for re-election in an early election she called to increase her power in the regional legislature. Díaz Ayuso made the election a referendum in his reaction to the stricter health restrictions imposed or recommended by Spain’s central left government.
Although they do not intervene to prevent bullfighting, national health authorities have repeatedly insisted that the regions are not at risk of mass contagion, allowing for major events. Football matches are still played in empty stadiums.
The Ministry of Health indicated on Friday that Madrid has the second highest infection rate in Spain’s regions, with 384 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 14 days.
Díaz Ayuso defended his decision by appealing to the central theme of his campaign: “freedom”.
“When there are bullfights, there is freedom,” said Díaz Ayuso last month.
Last week he added: “It is very important for those who like bullfights to see them as they please. Viewers will be in the best possible hands. There will be no problem. “
Díaz Ayuso hopes that his conservative Popular Party will obtain an absolute majority. If it fails, your chances of staying in power will depend on the far-right party Vox. The campaign was marked by death threats sent by letter to candidates, including Ayuso, and Spanish government ministers that the police are investigating.
The left’s chances of regaining power in the Madrid region for the first time in more than two decades depend on massive participation on Tuesday and the cooperation of the three left-wing parties, including Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s socialists. A heavy defeat for the left in Madrid would hurt Sánchez’s national governing coalition.