RCA discussing return of spectators for Royal Ascot

The RCA is hoping for a higher limit on spectators at Royal Ascot.
The RCA is hoping for a higher limit on spectators at Royal Ascot.

Up to 10,000 spectators may be able to attend what is one of the UK’s biggest annual race meetings.

UK.- Spectators will be allowed to attend this year’s Royal Ascot horseracing meeting, but the details of how many are still being negotiated. 

The Racecourse Association (RCA) has said that it is in talks with the UK government’s Events Research Programme (ERP) about the return of spectators for Royal Ascot, which is to take place between June 15 and 19.

David Armstrong, Chief Executive of the RCA, told Racing Post that conversations were ongoing but that the body is hopeful that 10,000 spectators may be allowed to attend the event at Ascot racecourse.

The next stage in the easing of lockdown restrictions in the UK from May 17 allows large outdoor sports venues to operate at 25 per cent capacity up to a maximum crowd of 10,000. The next loosening of restrictions after that is not scheduled until June 21.

However, higher limits have been permitted for some test events including the Carabao League Cup final on May 2 and the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible in Sheffield.

See also: Report finds UK racecourses losing £4m a month

Up to 20,000 may be allowed to attend the FA Cup final on May 15, and 25,000 England fans will be allowed to attend national matches as part of the 2020 European Championships. The RCA is now in discussions to propose that Royal Ascot also be made a pilot event with higher attendance.

Armstrong said: “We’re in discussions with government about what pilots we could successfully deliver as we move into the second phase of the ERP. We had proposed one in May but we weren’t quite able to make that work in time.

“The government is keen for us to take part but whether we do or not will not affect our readiness for crowds to return, so I’m reasonably relaxed about it.

“I get the frustration but I think we have communicated across the sport that we have to follow the protocols and those protocols are set by the government.

“We have to protect the green zone for the athletes. These are valuable people that are needed to keep the sport going.

“I can see where the frustration comes from as they can go down the road and sit outside at a pub having a pint with friends, but what people have to realise is that what happens at the races is imposed on us by government and we have to follow them.

“If racing could make its own changes to how things are, it might look different, but this is what we have to do.”

See also: British racing groups slam “disastrous” affordability proposals

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