Martin Slumbers, R&A chief executive, said Tuesday on a conference call with reporters that he’s “cautiously optimistic” The Open Championship will be played with fans on property at Royal St. George’s.
The 2020 Open was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic and although England remains under lockdown restrictions because of the coronavirus, Slumbers said the R&A is planning for various scenarios of 25 to 75 percent of full capacity, which at Royal St. George’s would be about 40,000.
“Uncertainty is about what the environment will be that we will need to operate in,” Slumbers said. “We've been working very closely with the UK government and Public Health to understand what we can do and what we can't do, and there is no doubt it is extremely complex and very challenging indeed.”
Last week’s PGA Championship was played with an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 fans on property at the Ocean Course and there were some concerns after the crowd swarmed in around the final group on the 72nd hole.
“There's no doubt that different parts of the U.S. are working under different restrictions, and it's no different between South Carolina and the UK in terms of that sort of gap,” Slumbers said. “The big uncertainty for us is clarity with the government and health authorities around social distancing, and that will determine what the atmosphere will be like at The Open.”