Open organisers R&A in the dark over size of the crowd allowed at Royal St George’s in July – with chiefs working on three different scenarios just seven weeks before the start of the major championship
- The R&A are making arrangements for up to 150,000 spectators over the week
- Work has now started on building the infrastructure as for a normal Open
- Face masks will be required, and all the players and officials will be in a bubble
With just seven weeks to go until the start of the Open at Royal St George’s in Kent, the R&A still do not know whether 150,000 spectators will be able to attend over the course of the week – or only 50,000.
Chief executive Martin Slumbers revealed they were working on three different scenarios, with capacity varying wildly from 25 per cent of the normal attendance up to 75 per cent.
‘We’re cautiously optimistic we’ll be able to have a significant attendance but we don’t want to get ahead of the UK Government and public health,’ he said.
The R&A still do not know whether 150,000 spectators will be able to attend the Open in Kent
‘We’re working closely with them but it will not be until the middle or late June before we have some clarity.
‘As you can imagine, the multiple plans are making this an extremely complex and very challenging operation.
‘While we would really like to provide certainty to everybody on how the Open will work, inevitably there remains great uncertainty. In effect, we are preparing for three separate Opens and it will be a while yet before we can lock one in.’
Shane Lowry (seen above) is set to defend his title in front of fans at Royal St George’s in July
Slumbers added that work has now started on building the infrastructure as for a normal Open. ‘There will be big grandstands around holes like the 18th,’ he said.
‘What we don’t know at this stage is how many they will hold, owing to social distancing considerations that will become clearer nearer the time.’
Face masks – blissfully not needed at last week’s US PGA Championship – will almost certainly be required, and all the players and officials will be in a bubble, something that will be alien to the Americans, who are free of such restrictions on the PGA Tour.
The R&A have been speaking with the player representatives and are confident it will not lead to a significant list of absentees.
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