What are the Covid rules if you’re playing or watching sport in France?

France initiated a new Covid protocol on November 26th. This means there are are new rules that apply to the country's sporting facilities.

PSG star, Lionel Messi, wearing a mask. Sporting activity in France is subject to various new Covid rules.
PSG star, Lionel Messi, wearing a mask. Sporting activity in France is subject to various new Covid rules. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

The new Covid protocol in France is far-reaching and extends to sporting facilities too. From the gyms to the stadium, from masks to the health pass, we explain the rules below:


Masks are once again obligatory in all sporting facilities, both inside and outside – including for fans, officials and competitors in stadia. In gyms, you must wear masks when walking in between different pieces of equipment or in the reception area.

This rule is lifted when you are physically competing or exercising eg if you are bench pressing, there is no need to wear a mask as you do so. The same applies to swimming, playing football or literally any other sporting activity. 

In other public spaces where sports might be practised such as beaches, lakes and forests mask wearing is not obligatory. Although local prefectures can enforce mask wearing in these areas at their discretion.

In areas where masks are compulsory in outdoor areas by local decree, there is usually an exception for joggers, cyclists and others exercising in the open air.

Health pass

To enter sports facilities, anyone over the age of 12 must present a valid health pass, this applies to all sports facilities from gyms to professional sports grounds. The only exception is for professional athletes who have received a special authorisation. 

From December 15th, over 65s who are eligible will need to get a booster jab to hold a valid health pass. From January 15th, this conditionality will also apply to all over 18s.  You can read more about the new health pass rules HERE

Sporting facilities such as basketball courts or outside ‘street gyms’, where there is no entry fee and the activity is not formally organised, do not require a health pass. 

In more formal establishments like gyms, swimming pools and stadia, there is no limit to how many people can participate in a sporting activity, provided everyone carries a health pass.

For the general public, no sporting activity has been banned. In schools however, contact sports like rugby are still not allowed. 


Fans wishing to watch sport, no matter what the venue, must show a valid health pass and wear a mask inside the stadium.

Stadium capacity can reach up to 100 percent for seated spectators – barring any localised prefecture decisions. However, standing fans must be kept at a one metre distance from each other. 

The government has said that stadia must respect barrier gestures, such as by offering hand gel. 

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Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

Spain have been thrown out of the 2023 Rugby World Cup for fielding an ineligible South African-born player during the qualifying stages and will be replaced by Romania, World Rugby announced on Thursday.

Spain thrown out of 2023 Rugby World Cup

“Subject to Spain’s right of appeal, the 10-point deduction applied to the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification table means that Romania will qualify as Europe 2 into Pool B replacing Spain,” read the statement.

Portugal — who Spain beat to seal their place in the global showpiece in France next year — replace Romania in the Final Qualification Tournament taking place in November 2022.

“Spain has a right of appeal within 14 days of the date of the full written decision of the committee,” read the statement.

According to Spanish media in March, the player under investigation was South African-born prop Gavin van den Berg, who has been playing in Spain since 2018.

He played twice against the Netherlands, in 2020 and 2021, in qualifiers, but he may not seemingly have served the three years of residency needed to become eligible under World Rugby rules.

Spain, Romania and Belgium were all sanctioned in 2018 for having fielded ineligible players, opening the way for Russia to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.