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Pamplona Bull Run festival returns after two years

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Google Oneindia News

Pamplona, Jul 07: Revelers gathered at the San Fermin bull-running festival in the Spanish city of Pamplona on Wednesday to kick off the world-famous event, with the races scheduled to start on Thursday.

The celebrations began with the "chupinazo" fireworks ignited by former soccer player and coach Juan Carlos Unzue. The athlete used the platform to draw attention to people suffering from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a neurological disease that affects voluntary muscle movement. Unze was diagnosed with the disease in 2018.

Pamplona Bull Run festival returns after two years

"This 'chupinazo' is dedicated to all those health workers and people who helped us during the pandemic, and to all those suffering from ALS. Long live San Fermin,'' Unze said.

Nearly 1 million festival-goers travel to Pamplona on peak days during its bull-run festival. Although the festival is back on, city officials have expressed concern about potential COVID-19 infections. The event was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to pandemic risks.

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"We have the feeling there is such desire among people to have a good time that it might get out of hand," said Pamplona mayor Enrique Maya.

Prior to the hiatus, the festival had not been canceled since the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.

City officials encouraged the use of masks during the festival and urged attendees to remember that COVID infections are on the rise. But crowded streets and night-long parties may make it difficult to adhere to official precautions.

Pamplona Bull Run festival returns after two years

Animal activists run in dinosaur costumes

Organizers also launched a campaign to bring awareness to sexual abuse during bull runs this year, setting up information points in the area. City officials have been on alert for instances of sexual abuse after a gang-rape case at the 2016 San Fermin festival.

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Animal rights protesters also flocked to Pamplona on the eve of this year's bull run. Dozens dressed as dinosaurs ran the route with signs reading "Bullfighting is Prehistoric." Bulls used in the races are killed by professional matadors in bullfights at the end of each run.

While bullfights are protected under the Spanish constitution as a form of cultural heritage, 90% of Spaniards did not attend any event involving bulls in 2014-2015, according to figures released by Cultural Ministry the last time the survey was conducted.

Source: DW

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