Horse Racing Set to Take Place Behind Closed Doors as Coronavirus Fears Intensify

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March 16, 2020 9:29 pm

Horse racing is the next victim of the coronavirus wave that has been sweeping the world. So, the events will take place behind closed doors from this week onwards until the end of March.

In addition to that, there is a chance of altering the fixture list, according to a statement from the British Horse Racing Authority. The body confirmed that the government is aware of the matter. This is particularly important in terms of trying to stage the Grand National in April.

The idea of racing behind closed doors, is already in effect in France and Ireland. It was noteworthy that the Cheltenham Festival took place as scheduled last week with attendance figures up to 68,000 people.

“Racing has worked hard to look after our customers and our staff by following the government’s guidance and taking proportionate action,” BHA chief executive Nick Rust said. “We will agree plans to limit attendance to participants and staff only at race meetings from this week and put in place the contingency plans developed by the industry.”

In a press release the BHA planned to launch a programme to aid them in the eventuality of possible staff absences. Furthermore, the the department for digital, culture, media and sport is already familiar with the contingency plans. Racing has been sticking to the government’s request for a response.

Aside from Horse Racing, what else has been affected?

The Premier League suspended its season after Arsenal FC manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for Covid-19. The government also planned to ban large gatherings, as early as the coming weekend.

The horse racing industry is a spectator sport and an important employer in rural areas. According to a 2013 report, around 20,000 jobs depend directly on the sport from an economic perspective.

The coronavirus pandemic will undoubtedly impact Britain’s 60 racecourses, especially when paying spectators are excluded. Interestingly, some tracks changed their approach according to the season.

However, they will all feel the sting as racing continues without paying spectators. In other words, they will require extra funding to make up for the inevitable shortfall. With the betting industry equally affected with all other sports suspended, it is clearly in the interests of racing and the bookmakers to work together.

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