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Pamplona blames slow vaccine rollout for cancellation of bull-running festival

Latest: Coronavirus in Spain figures (30 Apr)

Local authorities in northern Spain’s Pamplona have officially cancelled the San Fermín bull-running festival for the second year in a row because of the Covid-19 pandemic, as had been expected.

The mayor of Pamplona, Enrique Maya, said that new Coronavirus outbreaks, a high occupancy rate in local hospitals and a slow rollout of vaccination jabs were the reasons for calling off the festival

‘The festival cannot be organised overnight,’ Maya said on Monday during a news conference. ‘This is very hard. I never thought that this could happen.’

The annual Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona normally starts on 7 July but in 2020 it was suspended due to Coronavirus. The president of the Navarra regional government, María Chivite, had also earlier announced that it would not be possible to hold the event this yer – but no official cancellation had been announced until today. 

An image from the ‘Running of the Bulls’ in Pamplona on 14 July 2018. (AFP / Ander Gillenea)

The nine-day Pamplona festival was popularised by Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises, and prior to to last year’s cancellation it had last been called off during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.

Latest figures (up to 23 April) show that 10,405,863 people have now received at least one jab of the Covid-19 vaccine in Spain, representing 21.9% of the population. 3,862,789 people have now received a second jab, which is 8.1% of the population. Also read: Covid-19 Vaccinations in Spain

In April 2020, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) organisation had sent a letter to Maya, the mayor of Pamplona, offering the city €250,000 if it agreed to permanently end the bull-running and subsequent bullfights. Here we published an opinion piece (24 April 2020) by Elisa Allen, director of PETA UK: Opinion: why bullfights should stay cancelled after Covid-19

Stop the Bullfights - Peta
PETA activists holding ‘Stop the Bloody Bullfights’ banners in Pamplona in 2018. (Photo: peta.org.uk)

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1 comment

Louise Cooper 3rd May 2021 at 10:47 am

a tiny bit of good has come from covid if it forced the cancellation of the barbaric ‘running of the bulls’. Let’s hope this insanely cruel tradition is stopped once and for all.


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