Revellers stand next to a barrier before a running-of-the-bull festival in Villaseca de la Sagra | SERGIO PEREZ


Ten bulls charged through the streets of Villaseca de la Sagra on Sunday in pursuit of hundreds of runners as the first bull running fiesta was held in Spain since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Villages and towns across Spain hold the fiestas but they were prohibited last year as the country brought in tough health restrictions. Opposition to them has increased in recent years as Spanish society remains divided over the controversial issue of using bulls for sport.

No-one was injured during the country's first run, in this village of 1,700 inhabitants which is 65 km south of Madrid.

In order to comply with health restrictions, up to 900 runners were allowed to run ahead of the bulls each day during the festival between Sept 5-12, the council said, while the crowd was limited to 1,300 people per run.

"We were very excited. There were plenty of controls. If people respect restrictions, we can do this all over Spain," said Fernando Dominguez, 45, a market worker from Madrid.

A 2020 poll, published by the survey company Electomania, found that 47% Spaniards backed banning bullfighting while 18.6% opposed prohibition and 37% opposed bullfighting but did not want it to be banned.

Bullfights take place after bull runs and also as stand-alone events.