The 149th Open to go ahead with or without spectators, R&A chief announces
"We are certainly planning to stage The Open, but clearly at this point there are multiple scenarios," says R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers, who is positive The 149th Open will be played at Royal St George's
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 02/02/21 2:13pm
The 149th Open will go ahead at Royal St George's in July, with or without spectators.
R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers issued the defiant and optimistic prediction to Sky Sports News, although he "strongly believes" The Open Championship needs the fans to be in attendance.
Slumbers will monitor the impact of having a "limited number" of patrons at Augusta National for the Masters in April, and he remains hopeful spectators will be permitted at Sandwich this summer.
However, he stated the tournament, cancelled last year despite the other three majors going ahead without fans, will be played if health and safety protocols allow.
"We will play The Open this year," Slumbers told Sky Sports News. "We are certainly planning to stage The Open, but clearly at this point there are multiple scenarios.
"We are working with the government and health authorities, and it's certainly a lot more complex than staging a normal Open Championship. But we are going to do everything we possibly can to put on a great Championship for the country.
"I think there's a very good possibility we will be able to have spectators, but we will have to wait and see how many. We are balancing the health and safety of everyone involved, but I strongly believe The Open needs spectators.
"It will be really important to have some, but we want to make sure we do it smartly, intelligently and with due diligence."
Augusta National recently announced patrons will be attending the Masters in a limited capacity, and Slumbers is keen to assess the outcome.
"It's quite interesting. After this dreadful year that we have all gone through, collaboration and learning are two concepts that we're all picking up a lot more," he added.
"So, yes, I'm talking to my colleagues at Augusta, I'm watching, I'm learning and we are all doing that as we grapple what's going to be the 'new normal'."