The big sporting events with questions to answer amid doubts over large crowds

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Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, has said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is likely to be felt at large gatherings long after lockdown was over.He told Times Radio: “I can’t see us suddenly having another Cheltenham Festival with no regulations again, I can’t see us having massive weddings with people coming from all over the world. I think for the next few years those days are gone.”
After it was suggested events with large crowds could remain affected post-lockdown, the PA news agency looks at a number of scheduled sporting events in 2021 where a big gathering would have been predicted.Cheltenham FestivalCrowds flocked to Cheltenham Festival in 2020 (Andrew Matthews/PA)The next big sporting date in the calendar is the return of the Cheltenham Festival on March 16. Last year it was able to go ahead at full capacity, but soon after the country was placed into lockdown with the outbreak of Covid-19 firmly taking over. With the four-day jump festival around the corner again, it was confirmed at the start of February the Festival would be without spectators. A statement from Cheltenham Racecourse added it would continue to “monitor Government guidance” and “act accordingly” were the current situation to change.Euro 2020In a routine meeting with the host associations/organisers of the tournament, UEFA has repeated its commitment to holding UEFA EURO 2020 across 12 cities as per the already published timetable. Full details here 👇— UEFA (@UEFA) January 27, 2021While football teams have become accustomed to playing behind closed doors, the rearranged European Championships are set to take place in June with Wembley, Hampden Park and Aviva Stadium among the list of stadiums being used. Currently it is set to be played across 12 cities and while UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin insisted last month he was hopeful the tournament would go ahead in its planned format, the deadline for host associations to submit plans to accept fans has been put back from March 5 to early April.WimbledonView this post on InstagramA post shared by Wimbledon (@wimbledon)The oldest tennis tournament in the world was one of many sporting events not to take place in 2020. It is due to return this summer but will the strawberries and cream be served from your fridge, rather than on centre court? Fans gather from across the world to witness the best do battle on grass and while a statement on Friday insisted “we are committed to staging the Championships from 28 June to 11 July as planned”, it also confirmed scenarios are being drawn up for Wimbledon to take place at full capacity, a reduced capacity or behind closed doors.British Grand PrixLewis Hamilton won the British Grand Prix in 2020 but it had a very different feel to normal F1 races at Silverstone (FIA Pool/PA)The Silverstone race will take place a week later than usual this year on July 19 to avoid clashing with the finals of Wimbledon and the Euro’s. Chiefs at the Northamptonshire course are keen for it to still be a 140,000 sell out. In 2020 both the British Grand Prix and 70th Anniversary Grand Prix occurred at Silverstone behind closed doors. With Lewis Hamilton signed up with Mercedes for another season, fans from these shores will be eager to witness the seven-time world champion in action this summer but plenty more will attempt to attend if allowed given the history behind the circuit.London MarathonA huge congratulations to all the runners who’ve been successful in the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon Ballot! 🥳 🏃🏿‍♂️Retweet this image and tell the world where you’ll be on Sunday 3 October 2021 🤙#LondonMarathon pic.twitter.com/FmMm4ehduN— Virgin Money London Marathon (@LondonMarathon) February 8, 2021Covid-19 could not stop the annual marathon event in England’s capital going ahead last year, but it was an elite race only and moved from its usual slot in April back six months to October. It will remain there in the calendar with a date of October 3 pencilled in for the 2021 edition. The ballot for runners opened on Monday with those looking to complete the 26.2 mile journey in aid of various charities able to apply. As it stands, the organisers are looking to make the next London Marathon the biggest ever staged with 100,000 runners scheduled to take part and in addition to large crowds who gather throughout the city to support, it would be a hugely supported event.Lord’s, The Open and World Darts ChampionshipsWill full crowds return to Alexandra Palace in 2021? (Steve Paston/PA)England’s cricket team are currently in India for a four-match Test series, but will also face them back in the UK later this summer and those fixtures are normally packed to the rafters with spectators. It will be a similar story for The Open in July, which always draws big crowds to Royal St George’s Golf Club. England will host the 2021 Rugby League World Cup between October 23 and November 27 and 21 venues are currently down to be used. Not long after will be the World Darts Championships at Alexandra Palace, which is a huge event for sporting spectators who have a penchant for fancy dress. Meanwhile the the Tokyo Olympic Games are still set to go ahead according to International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach. Last month he described the rescheduled 2020 Olympics as the “light at the end of the tunnel” but the pandemic could still disrupt hopes of crowds from across the world being able to attend.

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