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Badminton to run behind closed doors next year

Badminton Horse Trials will run behind closed doors next year – although there is potential for some spectators to attend should restrictions allow.

Organisers announced on Tuesday (27 October) that the decision had been made “after much deliberation”, but that a “great competition” would be run.

“All will be under constant review and we will keep our loyal supporters and the eventing community posted with latest news and developments throughout the coming months,” a spokesman for the event said.

Organisers said their first priority will be the health and safety of all those involved in putting on the event.

Event director Jane Tuckwell said: “We realise that this is not the scenario everyone would wish for, but feel by announcing our intentions now it will give all involved in whatever capacity the opportunity to plan accordingly.

“To deliver the ‘behind closed doors’ event will not be without its challenges, but we look forward to bringing you a great competition.”

The 2020 event should have been Mrs Tuckwell’s first as director, following Hugh Thomas’s retirement, but it was cancelled in March owing to the coronavirus. The event had previously been cancelled five times, owing to bad weather in 1966, 1975, 1987 and 2012, and foot-and-mouth disease in 2001. Weather also forced Badminton to run as a one-day competition in 1963.

Mrs Tuckwell previously told H&H cancelling is “terrible”.

“It removes enjoyment from people’s lives and it’s so devastating because of all the people who are commercially involved,” she says. “But apart from the horrendous affect on people’s livelihoods, in the big picture of what’s going on, it seems insignificant this time. Lots of worse things are happening in the world.” (Interview, 7 May).

Two-time Badminton winner William Fox-Pitt said it was “fantastic” that Badminton is planning to run next spring, given the current circumstances.

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“To lose this prestigious event again would be a terrible disappointment and the eventing world will get behind Jane and her team to make this happen,” he said. “For sure it will be a very different Badminton.”

The 2021 event will run from 5 to 9 May, with the Science Supplements Cup running on the first day. British Eventing announced in July that this would be the rescheduled 2020 final.

The spokesman added: “With the event running behind closed doors, we would like to ensure everyone is still able to enjoy all the live action via TV or live-stream. Further news will be released on this in due course.”

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