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What just happened? The long-running saga that is DOTA 2's The International tournament has taken a sad turn. Valve has canceled plans to have a live audience at the show and said it would refund all tickets just days before the ten-day event begins.
Back in June, Valve said it had been working with Sweden since 2019 to ensure the tenth DOTA 2 International tournament could be held in the country during 2020. The pandemic put a spanner in those plans, but the company was given assurances by Stockholm Live and Visit Stockholm that this year's Championships would qualify for the same exemptions as other elite sporting events.
Ultimately, however, the Swedish Sports Federation refused to classify The International as an "elite sporting event," meaning anyone attempting to gain a visa for travel to Sweden, including players, talent, and staff would likely be denied due to Covid-19 restrictions. Valve appealed and tried some last-minute attempts to come to an agreement, but it was unsuccessful, leading to a new country and venue: Romania's 55,634-capacity Arena Nationala in the capital of Bucharest.
Valve started selling tickets to the tournament on September 12, noting that all attendees must be fully vaccinated and masked. Sadly, Covid-19 has once again intervened. Rising cases in Romania, which have led to new restrictions in Bucharest, have seen Valve cancel plans for a live audience. The event will continue as planned, just without a crowd.
"We wanted nothing more than to welcome fans live to the event, but we can no longer do so in a way that allows us to prioritize the health and well-being of both audience members and participants," writes Valve. "Those who purchased tickets will be issued a full refund automatically."
Last week saw high-profile DOTA 2 team Team Aster reveal that several members had tested positive for Covid-19, including three of its five players.