Government close to naming Open Championship and Challenge Cup final as pilot events for fans’ return

The Golf Open Championship and Rugby League Challenge Cup final were on the verge of being named as the next pilot events for the crowds’ return to sport on Tuesday night.

telegraph sports It has been announced that the two blue ribbon events have been scheduled to join Wimbledon, the climax of the European Football Championship and the British Grand Prix, to draw more than 10,000 spectators after national coronavirus restrictions eased on Monday to June 19. were extended in July.

As revealed by the Telegraph, both Wimbledon and the final four games of Euro 2020 will be at 50 per cent capacity, with Center Court set to be full for the men’s and women’s singles final.

But the postponement from Monday night to “Freedom Day” until July 19 dashed hopes of sell-out crowds at other of the summer’s crown jewels, with the European Championship final capped at around 50 per cent.

The final four knockout games of Euro 2020 at Wembley – the round of 16 tie, which England could take part in, as well as the two semi-finals and the final – and the start of Wimbledon will be watched as part of a new wave of spectator pilots with half capacity take place.

However, Center Court will be exempt from social distancing rules for the second week of the Championships, leading to 15,000 sell-outs for the women’s, men’s and singles finals on July 10 and 11 respectively.

The final four Euro 2020 games at Wembley will each draw around 40,000 spectators telegraph sports said it was highly unlikely that a further increase would materialize.

The British Grand Prix on the eve of 19 July was also granted pilot status, although no decision on capacity has yet been made in the hope that it could be released to fill its grandstands.

Any event denied this status must limit its capacity to 10,000 or 25 percent, whichever is lower.

The government also confirmed that lateral flow testing would continue to be part of its events research program.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “We want to gather further evidence on how we can open all major events safely and forever. The expansion of testing of the NHS app and lateral flow testing means larger crowds will be able to attend a limited number of major sporting and cultural events as part of our events research program early in the summer.

“Over the next few weeks, this means more fans enjoying the Euros and Wimbledon, as well as some of our biggest cultural and sporting events.”

A Wimbledon spokesman said: “We welcome the announcements by the Prime Minister and Culture Secretary that a number of events, including The Championships 2021, can take place as part of the next phase with higher spectator capacities than the current Step 3 guideline of the Government’s events research programme .

“We are delighted to have worked closely with the Government, public health authorities and our local authority in Merton to confirm that The Championships 2021 will start at 50 per cent on Monday 28th June as part of this next phase of pilot events will be capacity throughout the venue, up to the full capacity of 15,000 spectators on Center Court for the finals weekend.

“We continue to work closely with the Government to finalize the details of our participation in the events research programme, including requirements for spectator Covid status certification. We will issue another update on Wednesday June 16th to confirm these details. “

What does the postponement to “Freedom Day” mean for sport?

By Ben Rumsby and Jeremy Wilson


As revealed by telegraph sports, Wembley have been given permission to be about half full for the EURO knockout rounds – apart from a round of 16 game in which England will not be featured. However, a four-week delay until “Freedom Day” dashed hopes of a sell-out audience at the July 11 final. It is also unclear whether it will affect the end of restrictions on attendance at football matches at the start of next season, which begins less than three weeks after July 19. The officials continue to hope that full spectators will return then – even if this means the use of Covid passes.

rugby union

Unless the restrictions are lifted on June 21, it means the following Saturday’s Premiership final and England’s summer internationals against the United States and Canada would need to be made public pilots to be exempt from the current 10,000 spectator limit at such events to become. The Rugby Football Union estimated that the three games would allow 20,000 spectators (25 per cent capacity) and will certainly work to ensure that this remains a minimum. However, it has been ruled out that all major sporting events are half full, especially if they are earlier in the calendar.


England’s biggest games of the summer will come in their five-part Test series against India, which doesn’t start until August 4. The England & Wales Cricket Board is hoping these games can still be played at full capacity – even if Covid passports are required. The biggest threat in the coming weeks comes in the limited overs games against Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The ECB probably wants to have as many crowd pilots as possible so that they are exempt from the 10,000 limit. England’s final Twenty20 game against Pakistan on July 20 is currently set to be the first major sporting event since ‘Freedom Day’.


As revealed by telegraph sports, the Wimbledon singles final is the first major outdoor event to be allowed to play in front of a full audience since the start of the coronavirus crisis. The Championships begin at 50 per cent capacity, with Center Court allowed to increase attendances in the second week. Being named a public pilot would allow the venue to double its planned attendance to around 21,000 per day in the first week of the tournament.

motor race

Talks have begun to host the British Grand Prix on July 18th at full capacity. A 550 acre outdoor site, Silverstone is the largest major sporting venue in the UK with 70,000 grandstand seats spread over a 3.6 mile track. The vast majority of the 120,000+ spectators that typically attend a Grand Prix weekend also travel to the circuit by car. That would avoid the prospect of thousands being crammed into public transport – something thought to be far more likely to spread Covid-19 than relaxing social distancing in an outdoor grandstand.


The final round of the Open Championship will also take place on the eve of July 19 on a site covering several hectares. Even before a postponement of “Freedom Day” seemed inevitable, the R&A said last month it was planning a 75 per cent capacity – about 30,000 spectators – at Royal St George’s. It will need crowd pilot event status to host more than 10,000 visitors, but like the British Grand Prix, its cause will be helped by being scheduled right at the end of the extended restrictions.

rugby league

The sport’s blue ribbon event, the Challenge Cup Final, takes place at Wembley on July 17. The Rugby Football League is expected to at least draw level with the Euro 2020 final at the same venue just six days earlier. It has already delayed the resale of tickets for the game until it is clear what the allocation will be. It could also push for crowd pilot status for Super League games to go beyond the current 25 per cent viewership cap. The Super League Grand final doesn’t take place until October 9th, with the World Cup in England starting two weeks later on October 23rd.

mass sport

After being forced to postpone its return, parkrun is set to resume on June 26, regardless of the Prime Minister’s announcement. But fitness and leisure facilities face a cliff on July 1 when the moratorium on forfeiture ends, corporate rates are reinstated and employer contributions to vacation pay resume. Industry body ukactive has urged the government to urgently outline its plans to support businesses amid growing concern delays in the roadmap will coincide with the end of a series of fiscal relief measures. By the end of the first quarter of 2021, an estimated 400 facilities across the sector had closed and ukactive says thousands more are at risk of closure unless the government urgently commits to a rental solution.

Should sporting events go ahead at full capacity even if Freedom Day is postponed? Tell us in the comments section Government close to naming Open Championship and Challenge Cup final as pilot events for fans’ return

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