MOSCOW (Reuters) - Stormy weather on Saturday prompted the authorities in Moscow to close the Russian capital’s official FIFA fan zone, which regularly welcomes up to 25,000 soccer fans watching the World Cup on its giant outdoor screens.
Bursts of rain and strong winds replaced weeks of heat and sunshine while the fan zone, a magnet for Russian and foreign soccer fans, stood empty, its entrances shut.
There were no World Cup games scheduled to be played in Moscow on Saturday, but fans will have to find alternate venues to watch the games of the day: France taking on Argentina in the city of Kazan, and Uruguay facing Portugal in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi.
“On Saturday 30 June, the fan zone on Sparrow Hills will be temporarily shut,” the Moscow city government’s department for tourism and sport said in a statement on Friday.
“This decision has been taken due to expected poor weather conditions, including sharp gusts of wind, expected... in both daytime and in the evening,” the department said.
The fan zone, located on the Sparrow Hills campus of Moscow State University, was recently the subject of an official warning about possible overcrowding.
“Unfortunately, storms and hurricanes are no longer rare in Moscow. There’s a storm warning in place for tomorrow,” Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin wrote on Twitter on Friday.
“For your safety, restrictions have been introduced on the operation of parks and on street trading, as well as a temporary restriction on the fan zone in Sparrow Hills,” he added.
Writing by Polina Ivanova; Editing by Andrew Osborn