Elite sport has been given the green light to go ahead across the UK following the government’s announcement to introduce a third lockdown.
Yesterday, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced a series of measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, including the closure of schools and universities.
The retail betting sector was also dealt a further blow after all non-essential shops have been forced to close across the UK, meaning the remaining betting shops open in formerly tier one, tier two and tier three areas must shut.
In an address to the nation, Johnson said: “With most of the country already under extreme measures, it is clear that we need to do more, together, to bring this new variant under control while our vaccines are rolled out.
“In England, we must therefore go into a national lockdown which is tough enough to contain this variant. That means the Government is once again instructing you to stay at home. You may only leave home for limited reasons permitted in law.”
The Premier League and other elite sports will be required to continue strict testing regimes, as well as the implementation of established COVID safety protocols.
In response to the announcement, the Premier League insisted that it has ‘confidence’ in its current testing protocols, emphasising that it has no plans to pause the season despite a rise in positive cases across the league.
Racing is also due to continue behind closed doors, with the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) also expressing its confidence in its ability to maintain strict safety measures.
“Following this evening’s broadcast, we can confirm that racing will continue behind closed doors during the upcoming national lockdown,” the BHA said.
“Attendance will be limited to those essential to the staging of fixtures and strict adherence to British racing’s COVID-19 protocols will continue to be required for all who attend.”
The prospect of the two available vaccines does provide some semblance of hope for the return of fans to live sporting events, however for many this is still some time off.
Commenting on the Prime Minister’s statement, Mark Bird, Managing Director of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB), added: “I think most of us tonight expected a new National Lockdown to be announced in light of the transmissible rate of the new Covid variant.
“We believe that through having raced over the past six months, as a sport, we have clearly and responsibly demonstrated our commitment to work within all government advice and through our comprehensive and well-tested GBGB Covid-19 Operational Policy.
“We cannot be complacent in terms of us continuing to race and I would implore everyone involved in the sport to play their part to ensure that social distancing measures, the wearing of appropriate PPE and communication at all levels is maintained.
“Everyone realises that we still have a way to go before we see any real form of normality, but if we can all continue to pull together to sustain racing over the next few months, and whilst the vaccination rollout takes place, we will continue to be well placed to come through this as a sport.”