October 1 aim for racegoers return as Glorious Goodwood welcomes 5,000 crowd
Goodwood has been given permission to allow 5,000 racegoers on the final day of its Glorious meeting on August 1 as the government announced the fixture was among a select list of pilot events which could lead to spectators returning to sporting events in England on October 1.
The racecourse's management has made little secret of their desire to have members in attendance for at least one day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival and the green light from government means Stewards' Cup day will represent the first time racegoers have attended a race meeting in Britain since March.
Two men’s county cricket friendly matches, including Surrey v Middlesex at The Oval on 26-27 July, and the World Snooker Championship at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre are the other test events alongside Goodwood.
A government statement said there were likely to be further pilot events for other sports in order to prepare for a full, socially-distanced return of sporting events from October 1.
Racecourse Association chief executive David Armstrong said: "We welcome the fact that horseracing is to be selected as one of the pilot events to welcome back crowds and my team and I acknowledge the great responsibility upon us.
"The safety protocols involved will be stringent and the Goodwood racecourse team are in a fantastic place to implement them. The sport has come together to offer support to ensure the pilot event provides us with sufficient learnings that others may follow in time. These learnings will allow us to draft industry-wide protocols for the wider scale return of crowds as soon as we are able.
"Crowds bring a wonderful atmosphere to a raceday and many businesses associated with racecourses are reliant upon them. I sincerely hope that all involved enjoy their day— our focus now turns to supporting the Goodwood team in what is a landmark day for the sport."
The government intends to use the pilot events to stress-test their 'stage five' guidance on the return of fans to elite sports events, and sports minister Nigel Huddleston said: "For months millions of us have felt the void of being unable to go to the match to support our team or attend a top-class sporting event. So I am pleased that we are now able to move forward with a plan to help venues safely reopen their doors to fans.
"I recognise that not every sport, team or club has the benefit of huge commercial revenue, and it is often their dedicated fans that are the lifeblood which helps keep them going. By working closely with sports and medical experts, these pilots will help ensure the safe return of fans to stadia.
"Although it will remain some time before venues are full to capacity, this is a major step in the right direction for the resumption of live spectator sport across the country."
Adam Waterworth, sport managing director at the Goodwood Estate, said: “We are delighted that the Qatar Goodwood Festival has been selected as a pilot event for the return of crowds. It marks an important day for the sports industry following a few challenging months.
“Our annual members have continued to support us throughout, for which we are enormously grateful. It is therefore fantastic to offer them the opportunity to witness racing on The Downs again.
“The Goodwood team will ensure the racecourse adheres to Government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene. We hope that this will be the next step in ensuring crowds for future sporting events.”
We are delighted to announce, alongside the government and @TheRCA, that one of the pilot events to welcome crowds back to elite sporting venues in England will take place on 1st August at @Goodwood_Races, as part of the #QatarGoodwoodFestival.— Goodwood Racecourse (@Goodwood_Races) July 17, 2020
Details: https://t.co/1nleoXRmXD pic.twitter.com/yNemeRgtub
It is a major boost for Goodwood, who on Wednesday communicated with members' plans for them to attend Stewards' Cup day.
The track was still awaiting feedback from the government at the time, but this week wrote a letter to members' – seen by the Racing Post – outlining plans to have 5,000 members' in attendance on Saturday, August 1.
The letter read: "There will be significant social distancing measures in place to ensure the safety of all. The day would be considered as a pilot and we will therefore be looking to our members to help us deliver a safe day of racing for spectators, to help facilitate the wider return of crowds to sport and of course racing in particular.
"Whilst we understand not all of you will be able, or wish to attend a public event this early in the easing of lockdown, we know many more of you will be thrilled to have the opportunity to see live racing again at Goodwood – possibly the first racecourse to be allowed the public back."
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