University students in Nantes have taken up “quidditch,” or at least a non-wizarding version of the sport made popular in the Harry Potter books and movies. The last instalment of the saga hits the big screen in France on Wednesday.

"/> University students in Nantes have taken up “quidditch,” or at least a non-wizarding version of the sport made popular in the Harry Potter books and movies. The last instalment of the saga hits the big screen in France on Wednesday.

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Harry Potter ‘quidditch‘ phenomenon hits France

University students in Nantes have taken up “quidditch,” or at least a non-wizarding version of the sport made popular in the Harry Potter books and movies. The last instalment of the saga hits the big screen in France on Wednesday.

Students playing Muggle Quidditch at Millikin Universtiy

The game created by J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, is played on flying broomsticks in the air. The earthbound version of it, adapted for non-wizards, or Muggles, is something of a mixture of lacrosse, freeze tag, rugby, basketball and dodge ball.

“You have to be careful when colliding with another player, the impacts can be violent,” said Elodie Laruelle, 23, who organized the Nantes quidditch team on Facebook earlier this year. The players have been facing off on the field since May. “The broom can also hurt your thighs and it can get uncomfortable for the guys,” she told Reuters. 

Nantes is one of the first towns in France to have a quidditch team, although there are also players in Paris and Toulouse. The sport’s popularity is much greater in the United States, where there are some 300 teams, most at colleges and universities. Some of them will participate in the fifth Quidditch World Cup to be held in New York in November.

Teams play on a soccer-type field with hoops on each end. They try to get a ball through one of the hoops, dodge other balls thrown by defenders and catch the “golden snitch” – a gold, winged ball in the series; in the real world it is a person, often dressed in gold (and sometimes wearing wings), who darts in and out of the game.

“It’s not just a sport for geeks or Harry Potter fans,” Laruelle insisted. “Half of our players, at least, don’t know or don’t even like Harry Potter.”

That is the case with Clémence, a 19-year-old student who read one or two of the Potter books, “but they got on my nerves,” she told the website 20minutes.fr.

“But running around with a broom between my legs, that’s wild.”

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SPORT

French government: All athletes must be vaccinated to compete in France

All athletes and sports professionals who wish to compete in France will have to be vaccinated against Covid-19, government sources told AFP on Monday.

Unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic
Unvaccinated tennis star Novak Djokovic. Photo: Oscar del Polzo/AFP

The French parliament has just given the go-ahead for the health pass to be converted into a vaccine pass, which means that anyone wishing to enter leisure and cultural venues – including sports grounds and stadiums – will have to be vaccinated.

This goes for the crowd, but also professional sports players and staff. The government has indicated that exemptions will not be made athletes who are based outside France.

The ministry said a new vaccine pass, “applies to everyone, to volunteers and to elite sportspeople, including those coming from abroad, until further notice.”

READ ALSO What changes when France’s health pass becomes a vaccine pass

Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu said last week that certain events like the French Open could have a special exemption, when asked whether Novak Djokovic could play in the tournament, but this appears now to not be the case.

Questions had been asked about whether the unvaccinated Djokivic – recently deported from Australia – would be able to play in the French Open in May, but the ruling would affect all visiting sports professionals, including rugby teams from England, Ireland and Italy who are due to play in France during the Six Nations tournament in February and March.

Until now a health pass has been sufficient to enter sports grounds, which means unvaccinated players and fans were able to use a negative Covid test.

However once the vaccine pass enters into effect – scheduled to be later this week – only proof of vaccination will be affected.

French domestic sports teams were given the choice of either making sure that all their players and staff were fully vaccinated or playing behind closed doors.

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