Another major sporting event has been put on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Jockey Club, the governing body of horseracing in the UK, has announced that the 2020 Randox Health Grand National Festival will not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Grand National was initially set to take place at Aintree Racecourse between April 2 and April 4.
This news comes after the UK government issued new public health guidance regarding social contact, limiting non-essential travel and that emergency services will be withdrawn from supporting mass gatherings starting today (March 17).
What did the Jockey Club say about the Grand National?
In its statement, the Jockey Club Racecourses, the division of the body that runs Aintree and several other major UK racecourses, said it had been assessing the feasibility of holding the event behind closed doors. However, based on the government’s advice, the body decided that holding the event behind closed doors would not be a viable option.
Sandy Dudgeon, Senior Steward of The Jockey Club, said: “The Randox Health Grand National Festival was just three weeks away and it’s very clear to us it will not be possible for the event to take place. Public health must come first.
“We were working on a plan to stage the Grand National behind closed doors given its importance to the racing industry and beyond, but following the new Government measures confirmed this evening to help to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, this is not a viable option.
“I know this is hugely disappointing news for the many people who work in our sport and the many millions who were looking forward to this year’s event, but very sadly these are exceptional times and this is the responsible thing to do.”
This decision comes after the British Horseracing Association (BHA) announced that scheduled races would take place behind closed doors with a restriction on the number of attendees due to health concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
Other sports react to the pandemic
The English Premier League (EPL), FA, EFL and WSL have collectively agreed to postpone all professional matches in England due to the spread of coronavirus. Italy’s football division Serie A has also postponed all games until April 3, while Spain’s La Liga has put the next two rounds of games on hold.
In the US, the NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, decided to put postpone sporting events indefinitely after a player for the NBA’s Utah Jazz tested positive for coronavirus. The NCAA has also put March Madness on hold.
Formula 1 has also suspended its season-opening Australian Grand Prix in response to an outcry from drivers and team members. Prior to this decision, McLaren already withdrew for, the race after one its team members tested positive for the virus.