Coronavirus concerns force greyhound racing behind closed doors

COVID-19 has caused widespread disruption across the sporting world, with the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) has become the latest sporting body to confirm that the sport will be moving behind closed doors at all licensed stadia in England.

The decision follows further discussions with veterinary experts and representatives from across the industry, taking into account the most recent advice from the UK government and Public Health England on this rapidly evolving situation.

At the time of writing, the decision does not affect racing at Shawfield, as a result of the stadium being under Scottish Parliament’s jurisdiction.

Managing Director of GBGB, Mark Bird, explained: “These are uncertain and unprecedented times and our utmost priority is always the welfare and care of the greyhounds at the centre of our sport. We are likewise mindful of the health and wellbeing of everyone associated with British greyhound racing and of course our wider social responsibility to help minimise the transmission and impact of COVID-19.

“As a sport, we have therefore taken the collective decision to move all racing behind closed doors from today across our licensed stadia in England. We believe that this is the best way of the sport continuing to operate safely and successfully for the moment; minimising risk but maintaining the cashflow that is essential to everyone’s livelihoods and to the care of our greyhounds.”

He continued: “Likewise, after Saturday this week, all open racing will be suspended temporarily to reduce the need for travelling between stadia. We will be working alongside track owners and promoters to support those most affected by this, with greyhounds being entered into graded races where possible in the short term.

“These measures will help to safeguard the welfare of our greyhounds by ensuring that, although behind closed doors, racing continues wherever possible at this stage. However, as the situation develops at pace, we are also continuing to put in place contingencies and ring-fencing funds to support those working in the sport, should racing eventually need to pause altogether. We will be joining other industries in urging the government to widen the financial support for businesses and the self-employed in case of this eventuality.”

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