The Open is off but will the Tour de France be rescheduled?
Royal St George’s remains the host course of British golf’s major in 2021
Golf’s Open Championship is the latest sporting institution to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic with tournament organisers announcing there will be no 2020 edition.
It is the first time since the Second World War that there will be no Open, and instead it will return to Royal St George’s in Sandwich in 2021.
The Royal & Ancient (R&A), the organisers of the Open, has spent weeks exploring possible Plan Bs, such as rescheduling the tournament, but ultimately they decided it wasn’t feasible to move the event to another date this year given the complexity of the calendar.
The Times reports that the Open has “pandemic insurance to cover cancellation”, and that tickets and hospitality packages for Royal St George’s will be valid for the 2021 Open.
Anyone unable or unwilling to attend next year - the 149th Open - will be eligible for a full refund.
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Whether any of the majors will be completed this year remains unclear, although golf has rejigged its calendar in the hope that the other three majors will go ahead.
The Masters, scheduled for this month, has been put back to 9-15 November, and the US PGA Championship is now due to take place from 3-9 August.
The US Open at Winged Foot, New York, has been moved from June to 14-20 September, and will be followed a week later by the Ryder Cup, at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
Nonetheless, an element of doubt remains as to whether any of these tournaments will escape cancellation, as golf’s power-brokers explained in a joint statement to the press: “We remain very mindful of the obstacles ahead, and each organisation will continue to follow the guidance of the leading public health authorities, conducting competitions only if it is safe and responsible to do so.”
Summer sporting drought
As the Times remarks, the “sporting vista looking increasingly barren” this summer, with football’s European Championships, Olympics, Wimbledon and French Open all postponed or cancelled.
Question marks remain as to whether the football and rugby seasons will be finished, while cricketers are also in limbo.
The Formula 1 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, scheduled for 19 July, is still standing, but the Times says “it seems sure to go”.
Tour dates moved?
One overseas sporting tradition that has so far avoided cancellation is cycling’s Tour de France. The event is scheduled to run from 27 June to 19 July, but that could soon change.
French outlet RMC Sport reports that Tour organisers are resigned to the fact that it’s unrealistic to keep to the existing dates because riders need two months’ preparation and that would mean a rapid relaxation of the lockdown rules in place in France and most other European countries.
That is unlikely to happen before May so instead the relevant parties are in talks about staging the Tour from 25 July to 16 August, which represents a major logistical challenge given the nature of the race.
A final decision will be taken in early May, once the mayors of the towns and villages due to host the 2020 Tour have been consulted.
But one thing has allegedly already been decided: that organisers would rather have no Tour de France than stage one without the fans that make it such a special event.