Crowds won't come back to racing in 'first half' of 2021, Association of Irish Racecourses fear

'At the moment it's hard to see mass crowds at anything in the first half of next year'
Crowds won't come back to racing in 'first half' of 2021, Association of Irish Racecourses fear

A general view of the Covid-19 sign at the parade ring at Down Royal Racecourse during last month's Ladbrokes Festival of Racing. Picture: INPHO/Presseye/Kelvin Boyes

Crowds are unlikely to return to racing in the first half of next year, the Association of Irish Racecourses have warned.

Paddy Walsh, chief executive of the group says that it is  "hard to see" a return of spectators before next summer.

His comments come as it was announced that crowds of up to 4,000 people will be allowed attend sporting events, including racing in UK from December 2 - provided the areas where the events take place report low coronavirus numbers.

"I don't think we'll see crowds in the first half of next year but it's a very hard thing to call," Walsh told the Racing Post

"At the moment it's hard to see mass crowds at anything in the first half of next year. These things can change from day to day but it's very hard to see that.”

There is growing optimism that Ireland will leave the Level 5 restrictions laid out in the current Covid-19 roadmap, however, even in Level 1 restrictions, racecourses in are capped at 500 people.

HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh says he remains quietly hopeful that some much-needed positive news is around the corner.

“We'll take stock of what the government says about coming out of Level 5 and where we might go to, and I also expect the government to give us a more longer-term outlook on how the country might look next year," he said.

“We'll obviously keep an eye on what's going on in the UK as well but all through this process, it has been very clear that different jurisdictions have taken different approaches.

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