Published: 15:19, 06 April 2020
| Updated: 19:06, 06 April 2020
The 149th Open golf championship due to be staged in Sandwich this summer has been cancelled.
Organisers the R&A made the announcement today in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
KMTV reports on the cancellation
It follows the postponement of other major sporting events such as the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo and Euro 2020.
Martin Slumbers, chief executive of The R&A said: "I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year but it is not going to be possible.”
The championship would have been held at The Royal St George’s Golf Club from Sunday, July 12 to Sunday, July 19 and attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators to the area.
It will now be played at Royal St George’s from July 11- 18 2021, with the 150th Open at St Andrews also pushed back a year to July 10-17 2022.
It is the first time since the Second World War that golf’s original championship, first played in 1860, has been cancelled.
The R&A will transfer over 2020 purchased tickets and hospitality packages to The Open in 2021.
Purchasers who no longer wish to (or are no longer able to) attend in 2021 will receive a full refund.
More information on this process will be sent directly to ticket and hospitality purchasers in due course.
Mr Slumbers said: "Our absolute priority is to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, officials, volunteers and staff involved in The Open.
"We care deeply about this historic Championship and have made this decision with a heavy heart. We appreciate that this will be disappointing for a great many people around the world but we have to act responsibly during this pandemic and it is the right thing to do.
“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year but it is not going to be possible.
“There are many different considerations that go into organising a major sporting event of this scale. We rely on the support of the emergency services, local authorities and a range of other organisations to stage the Championship and it would be unreasonable to place any additional demands on them when they have far more urgent priorities to deal with.
"In recent weeks we have been working closely with those organisations as well as Royal St George’s, St Andrews Links Trust and the other golf bodies to resolve the remaining external factors and have done so as soon as we possibly could. We are grateful to all of them for their assistance and co-operation throughout this process.
“Most of all I would like to thank our fans around the world and all of our partners for their support and understanding. At a difficult time like this we have to recognise that sport must stand aside to let people focus on keeping themselves and their families healthy and safe.
"We are committed to supporting our community in the weeks and months ahead and will do everything in our power to help golf come through this crisis.”
Reacting to the news, Mayor of Sandwich, Cllr Jeff Franklin, said: “Although I am extremely disappointed that the 149th Open has been postponed, the safety of local residents and those attending the event (players, staff and guests) must take priority.
"I look forward to the Open Championship returning to Sandwich in 2021 when the event can be properly enjoyed by all.”
Leader of Dover District Council Cllr Trevor Bartlett said: “We understand and support The R&A’s decision to cancel The 149th Open this year at Royal St George’s. In the interests of public health and the safety of spectators, players, officials and the local community it’s the right decision.
“Naturally, as hosts we are disappointed, and it is another blow to the visitor economy in what is shaping up to be a very difficult year. I know just how much work had been going on locally to prepare and make a success of The Open.
“However, I am delighted that The R&A has confirmed that The 149th Open will be played at Royal St George's and heralding a major stimulus to the local economy as we rebuild.
"Celebrating Royal St George’s long and enduring relationship with The Open, it will be back, bigger and better next year.
“Finally, I’d like to thank Martin Slumbers and the whole team at The R&A for their unstinting support for bringing The Open back to Kent. We look forward to working with them in the build up to 2021.”
Cllr Dan Friend, chairman of Sandwich Conservative Party, said: "Whilst there will be some disappointment that the 149th Open will not be coming to Sandwich in 2020, I believe that it is the right thing to do in the current climate."
England Golf, which isn't responsible for The Open, has also postponed all championships events up until the week commencing July 27, 2020.
The R&A’s remaining professional and amateur championships scheduled for this year remain under review.