R&A still aiming for 'full-scale' Open but also have 'robust' back-up plans

The R&A is continuing to plan for a “full-scale” Open Championship at Royal St George’s this summer but is also braced for it being played with a reduced capacity or even behind closed doors.

Shane Lowry talks in a press conference after his win in the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in 2019. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.
Shane Lowry talks in a press conference after his win in the 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush in 2019. Picture: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.

An update on the event’s 149th edition, which was pushed back 12 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has been provided by R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers.

In a message to fans today, he said: “We are focused on staging The 149th Open at Royal St George’s from 11-18 July 2021 and on delivering a fantastic Championship for the country and the world of golf.

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“I would like to assure you our fans as well as our players, officials, patrons, partners, contractors and suppliers that we will do all we can to make this summer’s Championship a huge success.

“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 programme.

“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.”

Slumbers went on: “With that in mind, we have been working closely with the government, our medical advisers and partner agencies as part of a rigorous scenario-planning exercise for staging The Open this year.

“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.

“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.”

Shane Lowry, the winner at Royal Portrush in 2019, is set to defend the Claret Jug in Kent.

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