UK government approves return of English sports

The UK government has given the green light for English sport to resume.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has given professional sports the green light to resume in England from today (1 June).

The first sport to take place in England today will be a horse racing event at Newcastle this afternoon. This will mark the first horseracing event to take place since mid-March when almost all major UK sporting events were put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The sports shutdown

All sports and sporting events in the UK were either cancelled or postponed when the UK government imposed the country-wide lockdown on 23 March. However, many events were already put on hold before the lockdown came into effect.

However, in recent weeks several major UK sporting bodies have outlined plans to resume activities when the government permits it.

Premier League football is set to resume on 17 June, while the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) shared an updated list of racing fixtures starting from 1 June.

Sports return

During Saturday’s daily coronavirus briefing, Secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden confirmed that professional sports will be able to resume from 1 June with several restrictions in place.

All sporting events that resume will take place behind closed doors. Another measure will include the regular testing of anyone involved with events, the implementation of social distancing where possible and a one-way movement system for people and vehicles at sports venues.

Sporting organisations must also appoint a COVID-19 officer to oversee the new measures.

Dowden said: “This is a significant moment for British sport. By working with clinicians every step of the way, we are creating the safest possible environments for everyone involved.

“This guidance provides the safe framework for sports to resume competitions behind closed doors. It is now up to individual sports to confirm they can meet these protocols and decide when it’s right for them to restart.”

Horseracing returns today

Horseracing will resume today at Newcastle Recourse, which will host a 10-race meeting. The venue will hold another race tomorrow and Kempton Park will also hold a race.

The BHA has praised the UK government for allowing sporting events to resume, saying that the resumption of racing will save businesses and livelihoods across the sector. Horseracing events will be run in accordance with new guidelines developed by the BHA’s chief medical adviser Dr Jerry Hill with Public Health England and medical staff from other sports bodies.

BHA chief executive Nick Rust said: “This is an important stage towards a complete return for our industry and will help protect livelihoods and businesses.

“The timing is crucial for the breeding sector and we thank the government and officials at DCMS and Public Health England for their assistance in planning a safe return to racing. There is still a tough battle ahead before we can get fully back in business but this is a resilient and world-leading industry and we are ready for the task.”

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