R&A optimistic about holding British Open in July after last year's cancellation due to COVID-19

Ryan Young
·3 min read

The British Open was the only one of the four major championships that was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though the coronavirus is still raging throughout the world, Rohal and Ancient chief executive Martin Slumbers said this week that they have “cautious optimism” that the tournament can be held in July.

“We are acutely aware that this remains a difficult time for so many people and the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is causing substantial disruption to all our lives but there is growing cause for optimism with the rapid roll-out of the vaccination program,” Slumbers said in a statement. “There are undoubtedly many more pressing concerns facing people at the moment but we are trying to look forward with cautious optimism. We believe that seeing the world’s best men’s golfers in action at golf’s original championship will bring some much needed joy and excitement back into our lives this summer.”

The British Open is currently scheduled for July 15-18 at Royal St. Geoge’s — which sits about 80 miles outside of London on the United Kingdon’s southeast coast. The course was set to host last year’s tournament. Next year’s British Open, which will be the 150th playing of the championship, is set to take place at St. Andrews.

Will fans be allowed at the British Open?

While Slumbers sounds committed to hosting the event in July, it likely won’t look the same.

The United Kingdom has seen nearly 4 million total cases of the coronavirus as of Thursday, according to The New York Times, and is now averaging more than 16,000 new cases each day — which is significantly down from it’s worst spike in early January.

The country has been in a national lockdown since Jan. 8, something Prime Minister Boris Johnson implemented amid case spikes and a new coronavirus variant that swept through the United Kingodm.

The British Open is still about five months out, and a lot can change before then. Most events so far on the PGA Tour, however, have been held either without fans completely or with a very small number allowed in. The Masters tournament in April is planning to allow a limited number of fans to watch at Augusta National, though it’s unclear how many.

Slumbers, though he wants fans on the course at Royal St. George’s, said the R&A is planning for a number of scenarios.

“We continue to plan for a full-scale Championship but also have robust plans in place for a reduced capacity or behind closed doors model,” he said in a statement.

“I can also assure you that we would like nothing more than to welcome you, our amazing fans, to The Open once again this July. We will be doing all we can to make that happen while ensuring the safety of all involved and following all necessary government guidance.”

The Open signage on the 18th during day one of The Open Championship 2019 at Royal Portrush Golf Club.
The R&A is optimistic about holding the British Open in July. (Richard Sellers/PA Images/Getty Images)

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