The Covid-19 pandemic and recent postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games has cast doubt over the 149th Open Championship. The R&A recently released a statement: the event is scheduled to proceed as planned in July. Dynamic events consisting of global travel restrictions, widespread lock-downs and widespread financial uncertainty has lead to a growing anxiety about travelling to attend the Open Championship at Royal St Georges in Kent, England. The R&A is the governing body behind The Open Championships. It also maintains the official Rules of Golf in conjunction with the USGA.
The R&A released an official statement on March 19. “We are closely monitoring the constantly-moving situation in the Covid-19 pandemic and carefully following the advice to us by the UK Government, relevant health authorities and our medical consultants.” Various contingencies are being played out by the R&A should the event be postponed. These include postponing to later in 2020 or moving the 149th Open to 2021, rescheduling the 150th Open to 2022. Other contingencies may feature playing without spectators or cancelling altogether. Postponing The 149th Open at Royal St Georges to later in 2020 brings bad weather into play. September in Kent sees shorter daylight hours and colder weather that is not ideal for a golf tournament.
Covid-19 and the Future of 2020’s Golf
On March 27, The Guardian released an article titled ‘Open moves closer to postponement.’ The main realisation dawning on the UK and R&A is that The Open expects to attract crowds of more than 200,000, leading to a “rising sense the coronavirus pandemic won’t have settled sufficiently for the tournament to be staged in satisfactory form for players or fans. The Open falls under “mass gathering” criteria, with issues relating to mass international travel also pertinent.” Furthermore, Golf Digest’s article released on March 27, contends that an Open postponed to September would see shortened daylight hours and a different tee-sheet per competition day as a result.
The Australian Golf Digest released an article on March 28 which revealed inside sources told that even organisers are confident the golf majors will eventually be played.” The safety of all fans, players, spectators and officials is paramount, but the R&A have a few weeks of deliberation before any further statement will be due. A deciding factor for postponing the event will be fans and players’ willingness to travel to the UK in July. Rising cases of the Coronavirus in the UK has many fearful of their existing July bookings to attend The 149th Open.
We will keep you updated as the situation develops.