Open Championship chiefs planning 'full-scale' event despite virus

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The Open Championship organisers said they were planning for a "full-scale" championship in July following last year's cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 149th Open was scheduled to take place at Royal St George's Golf Club in Kent, southeast England, last year.

Golf's oldest major will be hosted at the same Sandwich venue in 2021.

In an update to fans, R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said the body, which organises the tournament, was proceeding with "cautious optimism" and had contingency plans in place.

"We are focused on staging The 149th Open at Royal St George's from 11-18 July 2021 and on delivering a fantastic championship for the country and the world of golf," Slumbers wrote.

"I would like to assure you, our fans as well as our players, officials, patrons, partners, contractors and suppliers that we will do all we can to make this summer's championship a huge success.

"We are acutely aware that this remains a difficult time for so many people and the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is causing substantial disruption to all our lives but there is growing cause for optimism with the rapid roll-out of the vaccination programme."

Britain, which was the first Western nation to roll out Covid-19 jabs in the general population, is banking on its biggest-ever vaccination programme as a way out of a crisis that has killed more than 113 000 people.

Slumbers said the organisers of the Open had been working closely with the government and medical advisers.

"We continue to plan for a full-scale championship but also have robust plans in place for a reduced capacity or behind-closed-doors model," he said.

St Andrews, in Scotland, is scheduled to host the 150th Open Championship a year later than scheduled, in 2022.

Royal St George's has hosted The Open 14 times, most recently in 2011, when Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke won the event.

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