The Open Championship canceled for first time since World War II over coronavirus outbreak

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The Open Championship, one of golf’s biggest major tournaments set for mid-July, was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the R&A announced Monday.

The Open, also known as the British Open, was set to take place at Royal St. George’s in Sandwich, England, from July 16 to July 19. It was going to be the 148th running of the tournament. It’s the first time since World War II that the event has been canceled.

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“Our absolute priority is to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, officials, volunteers, and staff involved in The Open,” The R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said in a statement. “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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Slumbers said because the event needs emergency personnel to be on duty for the event it would be “unreasonable to place any additional demands on them” as they are on the front lines of the pandemic.

“Most of all I would like to thank our fans around the world and all of our partners for their support and understanding,” Slumbers added. “At a difficult time like this, we have to recognize 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.”

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Shane Lowry, of Ireland, is the defending champion.