One of the few remaining sports to have avoided the shutdown due to the COVID-19 virus has succumbed to concerns about the spread of infection, with the news that UK greyhound racing has followed horse racing by shutting down all of its race meetings.
The decision comes in the wake of the UK government’s order that all non-essential gatherings should be halted. The announcement came in a speech by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday and means that it has become effectively impossible for the sport to continue.
Although the decision had been widely anticipated, greyhound racing had continued behind closed doors since last week, but the complete shutdown was confirmed by the Managing Director of the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) Mark Bird in a statement on Tuesday:
“In responding to the PM’s announcement, we have to suspend all racing as this is the responsible thing to do. However there remains a need to clarify the government position in terms of ‘gatherings’ and ‘work’. I have contacted our contacts in Defra and DCMS and await their urgent clarification on these points.”
Bird went on to say that the GBGB had planned for this outcome and were prepared. He added that the UK greyhound racing community would carry on and get through the crisis.
Also included in the UK government measures was the immediate shut down of all gaming and entertainment facilities, which will be reviewed every 28 days. This includes cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, bars, theatres, nightclubs, cinemas and leisure centres, along with gambling venues. The government has brought forward a number of measures designed to support those affected by the shutdown, including support for employers to retain staff, but the impact on the sport of greyhound racing as well as the wider gambling sector in the UK is likely to be significant.