In another blow to sports fans in the UK, it has been announced that all horse racing in the country will come to a halt from Wednesday.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) issued a statement on Tuesday confirming the news. The statement said that they had taken into account the changed government advice on Monday over the growing threat from the coronavirus pandemic, and that they had no other option than to suspend racing in order to ensure the sport’s compliance with recommended measures.
In addressing the cancellation, the Chief Executive of the BHA, Nick Rust, said that it was a decision that had been made despite the close connection between the racing industry and rural communities, in the light of a national emergency on a major scale:
“Racing is a family and I know we will pull together over the coming days, weeks and months and support each other. By stopping racing, we can free up medical resources, doctors and ambulances, be they private sector or NHS, to assist in the national effort to fight this virus. And we can support racing industry participants and staff as they face up to the personal challenges ahead and care for their own families.”
At a press conference on Monday night, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the government would no longer be supporting mass gatherings, and also urged people in the UK to avoid social contact where possible. Racecourses have a legal obligation to protect the safety of participants and to provide medical cover, which cannot be met in the current circumstances.
The news also follows Monday’s cancellation of the Grand National meeting, scheduled for early April. It means that as of Wednesday, there will be no race meetings at all in the UK until at least the end of March, with no guarantee that the sport will be able to resume at that point.