Entry into Germany Still Possible for Professional Esports Athletes During COVID-19 Pandemic

The German Esports Federation has issued an announcement to clarify that the German Federal Ministry of the Interior’s message regarding allowing international sports competitions and those who play in them entry into Germany, includes esports competitors. According to the clarification, “entry of professional esports athletes from third countries into Germany remains possible during the corona pandemic.” The prerequisite for entry and residence is the existence of a good cause such as participation in an international esports tournament. In addition to the clarification that these guidelines from the ministry cover esports, the ESBD is also admonishing esports teams and players to follow official hygiene regulations in order to contain the pandemic and is encouraging everyone “to take further precautions beyond the minimum requirements to help prevent the spread of the virus.”

“As the ESBD, we have worked to ensure that the important exceptions to the corona restrictions for professional sports also apply to esports. We welcome the clarification by the Federal Ministry of the Interior. This will enable Germany to cautiously operate again with international teams on site. Teams and organizers now have the necessary certainty to start planning for the coming months,” ESBD President Hans Jagnow said.

The ESBD release says that the prerequisite for entry is that respective players meet the legal requirements for the residence status as professional esports players. Those entering the country need to obtain a permit with proof of the compulsory presence in Germany and must be carried at all times during the trip and presented while entering the country at the border. The ESBD also noted that the frame of reference is the “Employment Regulation” which was amended in March, stating that residential provisions for sports were extended to esports just like other sports. The legislator has thus met the ESBD’s demand that esports should be treated equally to traditional sports. 

The ESBD has created an online guide that spells out the laws and regulations surrounding entrance into Germany by esports participants using the Visa process:

Professional esports athletes that are eligible for the German esports visa, introduced in March 2020:

  • Professional esports athletes who are participating in tournaments.
  • A supervising person for underaged professional esports players (under 18 years old).
  • All the above need to provide arguments for mandatory presence and to make credible statements about the economic necessity of the stay and why it cannot be postponed. To make the case, sufficient proof must be provided (documents stating the official commitment to an organization, players contracts, etc.). The paperwork must be provided for the visa application as well as to be provided to border control upon entry.

Regardless of those requirements, if players come from risk areas the general obligations of quarantine are to be followed, in respect to individual state law.

Germany, Cologne and Berlin in particular, has hosted hundreds of esports events including some of the largest competitions the world has ever seen. Berlin was the host of Riot Games’ 2015 League of Legends World Championship finals as well as the StarLadder Berlin Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major in 2019, while Cologne has hosted the prestigious CS:GO events three times in 2014, 2015, and 2016.

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