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Packers say no fans for opening home games of NFL

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Los Angeles (AFP)

The Green Bay Packers said Thursday that no fans will be allowed at their first two home games of the upcoming NFL season as the team manages the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement from the Packers said the team's iconic Lambeau Field stadium would not host fans for games against the Detroit Lions on September 20 and Atlanta Falcons on October 5.

The Packers said whether fans would be allowed at the third home game of the season -- a divisional clash against the Minnesota Vikings on November 1 -- would depend on the progress of the disease.

"Conducting the first two regular-season games with only the essential participants will allow the organization to place its full focus on the game itself," the Packers said in a statement.

"This will also allow the organization to implement all the protocols that are in place due to the pandemic."

Packers chief executive Mark Murphy said the team remained optimistic that fans would eventually be let back into Lambeau at some point this season.

"Lambeau Field will not be the same without our fans' energetic support in the stands," Murphy said.

"Given the extraordinary circumstances this year and the additional protocols in place, though, we determined it was best to take incremental steps to start the regular season.

"We are hopeful that we will be able to host fans for games later in the season, should conditions allow. We will continue to consult with community healthcare and public health officials on the pandemic conditions in our area."

With the NFL season due to kick off next month, most teams around the league have outlined plans to operate stadiums with drastically reduced capacities, with limited tickets available for supporters.

The Las Vegas Raiders said this week no fans would be allowed at any of its home games as the team marks its move from Oakland to Nevada.

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