There is no doubt that COVID-19 has been challenging for the people of Scotland and the rest of the UK. This ongoing pandemic has been with us too long now and has impacted our lives, businesses and children’s education. One recent positive was the roadmap out of lockdown announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The plan sets out how lockdown should be eased over the coming months in four stages. Eventually, it is hoped that June 2021 will see things return to normal once more.
One sector which warmly welcomed plans to move out of lockdown and back to normal was sport. Sport in the UK has seen significant disruption due to COVID-19 and the lockdown measures brought in to fight the illness. But what might the current roadmap out of lockdown mean for top sporting events in the UK during the year?
Horse racing – Cheltenham, Grand National and beyond
Horse racing is still one of the best-loved sports around the UK and attracts millions of fans. But what does the latest COVID-19 roadmap mean for the major UK racing events this coming year?
The annual Cheltenham Festival in mid-March is one that usually attracts enormous crowds. Sadly, it looks like the current roadmap means no-one will be allowed onto the course in person to watch the racing unfold. While this is disappointing, the festival will still take place behind closed doors and be available to watch on TV. In light of that, people can still see top races like The Gold Cup and bet on all the action as it happens. Why not pick up the best free bets this Cheltenham as shown at cheltenhamfestival.net to make the most of it all? The people behind this site are widely respected in horse racing and can be trusted only to show you the best free bets around to enjoy.
But what about the other major UK horse racing events after Cheltenham this year, such as the Grand National Festival in April? As the UK Government is committed to only easing lockdown if the data suggests it is sensible to do so, it is hard to say for sure what will happen right now. It is hoped, though, that future big events will take place as per Cheltenham – but whether fans will be allowed back in or they will happen behind closed doors is not yet confirmed. If all goes to plan and restrictions do begin easing through March, April and May before ending in June, then future big meets post-June should be able to happen as they did pre-COVID.
Perhaps one of the best-known and loved major UK sporting event each year is Wimbledon. This top-level tennis tournament brings the best players together in London to battle it out for honours. With stars like Nadal, Federer, Konta and Halep all making it a key event in their diary, it is always an exciting occasion.
But what does the roadmap out of lockdown mean for Wimbledon 2021? The key might well lie in when it is planned to take place – the 28th of June to the 11th of July. This late June start date is after the roadmap’s final stage is due to be implemented and is when most restrictions on social contact should ease. Due to this, it looks likely that some fans should be allowed into the venue to spectate.
Wimbledon may well be set a limited spectator capacity, depending on the official UK Government guidelines, which organisers will have to follow at the time. Even if fans are not allowed to be courtside, it seems highly likely that strict COVID testing for players will enable the event to happen – even if behind closed doors.
FA Cup Final
Next to the top horse racing festivals and Wimbledon, the FA Cup Final in football is a major UK sporting event that happens each year. It is due to take place at Wembley Stadium on the 15th of May and would normally see thousands of fans cheering on the teams. But what might actually occur this year, when looking at the roadmap set out by the PM?
As with the other events we have looked at, the date is crucial. Mid-May should see the UK in Stage 2 and almost at Stage 3 (which should happen as from the 17th of May). As the football season has been taking place anyway over the last few months (due to a strict testing and isolation regime of players/clubs), you would expect that this event will happen. Of course, players testing positive for COVID on both or either team due to play could scupper the event!
In terms of fans attending, this is more difficult to call. While there is nothing in Stage 2 of the current roadmap to allow this, Stage 3 does mention that for large outdoor events, where the crowds can be spread out, 10,000 people can attend (or one quarter full if that is lower). Although the FA Cup Final happens just before Stage 3 should come into play, you can imagine the UK Government allowing these measures to apply to the Cup Final early to enable some fans to watch in person.
UK roadmap looks promising
Sport is a major part of life in Scotland and around the whole UK. There is no doubt that COVID-19 has hampered our ability to enjoy the sports we love as we usually would have done in recent times. With the government’s roadmap out of lockdown now published though, we can only hope that they stick to it and that major events not only take place as planned but also allow fans back into venues. While we do not know how COVID might affect the property market in 2021, we can look ahead to brighter times for sport.