The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) has announced the cancelation of The Open 2020 with the 149th version of the Golf tournament now set to tee off in 2021 due to the ongoing COVID-19 global outbreak.

Originally scheduled to be contested in Kent on 12-19 July, the Open’s cancellation has been based on the guidance given by the UK Government, the health authorities, public services and The R&A’s advisers. 

Moreover, the postponement of The Open 2020 marks the first time since the Second World War that the original golfing Championship has been cancelled.

Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of the R&A, stated: “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 we have to act responsibly during this pandemic and 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.

The R&A is now set to transfer over all 2020 purchased tickets and hospitality packages to the 2021 version of the contest, with the organisation also confirming that it will be giving out full refunds to those who no longer wish to attend the reschedule Open. 

Slumbers added: “There are many different considerations that go into organising a major sporting event of this scale. 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 community in the weeks and months ahead and will do everything in our power to help golf come through this crisis.”

As it stands, the R&A’s remaining professional and amateur championships scheduled for this year are under review, with updates set to be made as and when decisions are finalised.