Crowd crush at venue entrance to The Weeknd concert at Du Arena
A crush at one of the entrance gates at Friday’s Abu Dhabi Formula One after-race concert at the Du Arena on Yas Island led to "inappropriate" behaviour when fans attempted to force their way into the venue, according to organisers.
At approximately 10pm, hundreds of waiting fans – some of whom were in line for up to an hour to enter the venue – attempted to push through the metal doors at Gate 2.
At the time, the concert headliner The Weeknd was about half-an-hour into his set.
They ignored staff and entered into the venue; some through the exclusive Golden Circle area near the main stage, while others accessed the General Admission area from the other side.
The sudden wave of people arriving panicked those attempting to leave the venue.
With staff overwhelmed and the metal doors partly collapsed, people were caught in a small crush just outside of Gate 2.
Shouts of “stop” and “slow down” from venue staff and crowd members could be heard.
“Du Arena can easily accommodate 35,000 people. A large number of fans arrived simultaneously to the The Weeknd concert and the gates were closed for safety. We understand this is disappointing and frustrating. It is disappointing to hear they were instances of inappropriate fan behaviour,” a statement from the concert organisers, Flash Entertainment, said.
Flash later retracted the statement, deleting it from their Instagram account where it had received a number of angry responses from disappointed fans who felt they were being unfairly blamed for the incident.
There are no details from organisers or authorities about the extent of injuries. Abu Dhabi Police declined to comment on the incident.
At 10.15pm, six ambulances were seen parked on Yas Leisure Drive and numerous police officers carrying riot shields were arriving on site, in addition to one vehicle from the K-9 unit.
At least four people could be seen receiving treatment from paramedics at the scene, while a conscious woman was stretchered into an ambulance.
According to concert goers, the fact that the show had already started helped trigger the incident.
Doors to the venue open from 6pm and Flash Entertainment encourage people to arrive as early as possible, according to its website. However, the start of the show and the number of people attempting to enter the arena at once led to a temporary closure of the gate due to safety reasons.
Althea Fernandes, a Dubai resident, arrived at Gate 2 at about 9pm but was unable to get in at that time.
She said at about 10pm people started to push into the venue and as a result the rest began to follow them inside.
“As we were walking in, security on the other side started pushing the barriers towards us and I saw people being trampled.”
Ahmed, an Abu Dhabi resident, said long-lines at the entrance were the main issue.
“I was there for nearly half an hour. The line was slow and we didn’t know what was the cause and people were getting frustrated. Then they just decided to go through with force.”
Fans vented their frustration on social media over the incident.
Flash, which organises all the after-race concerts, released a statement at 11pm, acknowledging the situation.
“We are working with our teams to manage entry for The Weeknd concert. The health and safety of our fans, staff and artists is our primary concern. We ask for your patience and co-operation at this time.”