An event starring singer Akon was shut down on Wednesday night after it was found to be in breach of COVID-19 regulations.

Police intervened to stop the party at St Julian's nightclub Skyclub after there were too many people in the venue, guests were told.

The 'SiGMA Night' was part of events around the World iGaming Festival being held in Malta this week.

It promised to "celebrate the industry's resilience and determination to maintain its position on the world stage... by bringing out 500 bottles of the best champagne at midnight".

Akon, known for songs like 'Beautiful’ and ‘Lonely’, was the star guest after he took part in the festival to showcase Akoin, a blockchain platform and digital currency he leads.

But the event was shut down before he performed, to the disappointment of fans who bought tickets for the event paying between €35 and €50 a head.

One woman recounted how she arrived at the party at about 9.30pm after having bought the ticket for €35 some weeks ago.

Two hours into the event the music went out.

"I thought the concert would start. But all of a sudden there were police telling us to get out because there were too many people... several friends of mine got stopped by the entrance at around midnight and told they could not get in before everything was shut down. Even having tickets," she said.

According to COVID regulations seated events can hold up to 500 people while standing events are capped at 100 people.  The woman said the event was not a seated one, althrough there were a few tables. 

It is not clear whether the order to shut down the event originated from the Malta Tourism Authority or the police.

Questions sent to both entities remained unanswered by the time of writing. Times of Malta also contacted Sky Club and SiGMA organisers for comment. 

In their response SiGMA did not address the closure of the event, saying only that they could hold the conference this year and looked forward to boosting the economy again next year. 

"SiGMA typically attracts over 12,000 executives to the island. The demand for this summit is unprecedented and we understand that there are increased challenges during Covid times," a spokesperson said.

In the past police have failed to act despite flagrant breaches of rules designed to stop the spread of COVID-19. In September, Times of Malta observed nighclubs in Paceville operating without any enforcement while people shunned social-distancing rules.

In July last year, a three-day 'hotel takeover' party was among a series of events linked to a surge in COVID-19 cases. 

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