Open 2021: Covid breach would leave player ‘at risk’ of disqualification warns R&A chief

Players who breach coronavirus protocols will be at risk of disqualification from the 149th Open Championship as R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers admitted that issues are “probably inevitable” at Royal St George’s.

Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A. during a press conference at Royal St George's Golf Club ahead of the Open. Picture: Handout/R&A/PA Wire
Martin Slumbers, chief executive of the R&A. during a press conference at Royal St George's Golf Club ahead of the Open. Picture: Handout/R&A/PA Wire

Although up to 32,000 spectators a day will be on site, the players have been prohibited from going to bars, restaurants and supermarkets and must stay in approved hotels or private accommodation limited to up to four members of their team.

Asked if he expected to get through the championship without players being subject to test and trace procedures or testing positive for Covid-19, Slumbers said: “We have thought long and hard of all the procedures that we need to minimise the risk on that.

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“The worst thing you can get is a player being contact traced, because you’re out for 10 days and (have to) quarantine and you can’t test out of it, so you’re out of the championship.

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“For the spectators, it’s different. They’re here as part of a research programme for the Government and the Government will be monitoring all that.

“They’re actually trying to very responsibly understand with these big events how Covid does transmit outside, in 500, 600 acres of land and wind blowing and they’re monitoring that.

“But I think it’s probably inevitable that we will have some problems and we understand that, so does Government, so does Public Health.

Slumbers said a breach of Covid-19 protocols would leave a player “at risk of being disqualified” but, when pressed for a definitive answer, added: “I’ve learnt being in officiating and rules that you want to understand the circumstances, but I don’t think that will be an issue.”

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