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Pilot sports events postponed to avoid further spike in coronavirus infections

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Pilot sports events postponed to avoid further spike in coronavirus infections

Test sports events with spectators in attendance will now not take place in the first two weeks of August, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said.

A two-day county cricket friendly between Surrey and Middlesex took place with spectators watching earlier this week, but for the present, it appears that will be as far as it goes in a tightening of restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus.

The World Snooker Championship started on Friday with fans in attendance, with further spectators due for the rest of the 17-day event.

Around 5,000 racegoers had been due to attend the Glorious Goodwood Festival on Saturday.

“Pilots of crowds at sports events will now not take place,” the Prime Minister said.

It is understood Premier League clubs had been hoping to admit supporters at pre-season friendlies next month on a socially-distanced basis.

Two matches in cricket’s Bob Willis Trophy starting on Saturday had been due to welcome spectators this weekend – Surrey v Middlesex at the Oval and Warwickshire v Northamptonshire at Edgbaston.

But the England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement: “We understand this is disappointing for supporters who have waited a long time to see their clubs in action and were looking forward to attending pilot events at the Kia Oval and Edgbaston this weekend.

“However, we understand the reasons the Government has made this decision, and remain ready to work with them to ensure supporters can safely return to stadiums when Government advice allows.”

Adam Waterworth, the managing director of sport at the Goodwood Estate, said: “We have been led by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport throughout and whilst we are disappointed by the news, the health and safety of attendees, customers and staff is of paramount importance.”

Spectators were already at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre for the first day of the World Snooker Championship when the announcement regarding crowds was made.

Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, tweeted about the developments.

“Very disappointing news that with rise in infection rates we cannot press ahead with sports pilots with fans this weekend I know the huge efforts cricket, snooker & horseracing have made to welcome fans back,” he wrote.

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