The worst-kept secret in golf is now official: this year's Open Championship has been CANCELLED.
The R&A has confirmed that this year's edition of golf's oldest professional tournament, scheduled to take place at Royal St George's from July 16-19, will now not be going ahead as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
It will, instead, be played at the Kent course in July 2021.
St Andrews, which had been due to host the championship next summer, will instead do so in 2022, when it will stage the 150th edition of the event.
The Open becomes the first of this year's major championships to be cancelled as a result of the outbreak.
In a statement, the R&A chief executive Martin 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 this pandemic is severely affecting the UK and we have to act responsibly. 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."
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This news means that 2020 will be the first year since 1945 that The Open will not be played.
“There are many different considerations that go into organising a major sporting event of this scale," added Slumbers. "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 wider community in the weeks and months ahead and will do everything in our power to help golf come through this crisis.”
The R&A has confirmed that tickets and hospitality packages purchased for the Championship in 2020 will transfer over 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.
Further information on this process will be sent directly to ticket and hospitality purchasers in due course.