Thursday, 15 April 2021

Henley Royal Regatta to go ahead

BREAKING: Henley Royal Regatta to go ahead

HENLEY Royal Regatta will go ahead this summer, subject to coronavirus restrictions.

Organisers announced today (Monday) that it is planning to stage it in Henley after all, instead of moving it to Dorney Lake, in the week commencing August 9.  

The annual event was already postponed from July in a bid to avoid a second cancellation in as many years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Plans to hold it with limited or even no spectators or to move it to Dorney in Buckinghamshire, where the 2012 Olympic regatta was held, was also considered.  

But the continuing success of the vaccine rollout and the government’s roadmap out of lockdown restrictions has given confidence that the regatta can take place, almost as usual.

However, the regatta could still be cancelled if coronavirus restrictions changed and if it was thought the event could increase the spread of covid-19.

Sir Steve Redgrave, who chairs the committee of management, said the “ambition” is to stage the “best regatta possible”.

He said: “Our ambition remains to stage the best regatta possible this summer in the context of the ongoing pandemic, with the health and safety of all those involved in the event, as well as wider public health remaining our highest priorities. 

“These are followed by our continued desire to offer the competitive pinnacle for the sport that Henley Royal Regatta represents, and to which athletes and coaches can aspire as our sport emerges from lockdown. 

“Based on our consultation, we are now cautiously, but actively working towards staging of the 2021 Regatta at Henley during the week commencing August 9 as the primary planning scenario.”

All 26 events in the programme, including those planned to be newly introduced in 2020 and in 2021, will be run.

But the regatta will “most likely” be staged with limited site infrastructure and reduced spectator attendance. 

Sir Steve said: “It remains likely that only a limited number of members will be allowed to attend at any one time. In line with government and public health guidance, the introduction of infection control measures will form part of our planning.  

“We regret that these dates in August present an insurmountable challenge to some school and university boat clubs and, in particular, to athletes aspiring to international representation at the Junior World Rowing Championships, currently due to be held in the same week. 

“However, given a wide range of factors, including the pre-existing schedule of other events due to be staged in Henley and the Thames Valley during the summer, the second week in August is the only practical option to accommodate a deferred regatta. We wish all those athletes who are selected to compete at the Junior Worlds the best of luck, and look forward to welcoming them to race at the Regatta in future years.”

Sir Steve said that whether or not the regatta takes place in Henley is dependent on government continuing to ease restrictions in accordance with its published roadmap out of lockdown and the results of the scientific Events Research Programme, which will assess the impact of certain major pilot events of similar spectator scale to the regatta, being staged through the spring and summer, such as the FA Cup final at Wembley in May.

He said: “Given these dependencies, ultimate feasibility will remain uncertain for some months. So the possibility remains that staging the regatta at Henley this year may not be possible, and in the worst case scenario, the risk of outright cancellation remains.

“Given this uncertainty there is no doubt that the regatta faces another difficult year.  However, both the committee and I have received many messages of support from stewards, members and potential competitors alike.  We clearly remain a beacon for the whole of the UK rowing family. 

“In a crisis that has affected our sport so deeply, and with so many rowers now facing their second consecutive cancelled season, we are committed to trying to stage the Regatta in some form this summer, in particular for the sake of our competitors.  The committee and I hope that we can count on your support in our pursuit of this endeavour.”

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