Oxford

Coronavirus: Henley Regatta cancelled over outbreak

Practising at Henley Regatta Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Last year's Henley Royal Regatta saw a record 660 crews involved

The Henley Royal Regatta has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Organisers of the event said the pandemic had damaged its ability to build and prepare the site for July.

Its committee said it as with "much sadness and regret" that it had to be cancelled.

The event, which sees rowers battle it out on the River Thames over five days of racing, usually attracts huge crowds.

Sir Steve Redgrave, chairman of the management committee, said there were "now more significant issues at stake than the staging of sporting events".

In a statement, the five-time Olympic gold medallist said the committee appreciated the cancellation would come as a "huge disappointment to many involved in the sport of rowing".

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Last year about 160 overseas crews took part

The regatta - which first started in 1839 - attracts participants ranging from Olympians, university and school teams, and novices.

In its 181-year history, the event, which organisers would have started to prepare for this week, has only previously not gone ahead during the two world wars.

Organisers said the decision had "weighed heavy" on them, but that it was the "right decision for our staff, members, volunteers, competitors, spectators, partners and stewards".

The committee also ruled out the possibility of staging the regatta later this year.

It added that the financial implications of cancellation would be "significant" not only to the event, but to contractors, suppliers, local landowners and the Henley community.

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