Boat Race moved to Cambridgeshire due to Hammersmith Bridge safety concerns

27 November 2020, 07:23

Spectators on Hammersmith Bridge
Spectators on Hammersmith Bridge. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

The Boat Race will be held on the River Great Ouse at Ely in Cambridgeshire next year instead of in London, due to ongoing concerns about the state of repair of Hammersmith Bridge.

Next year's event, due to take place in April, will be the 166th men's race and the 75th women's race between crews from Oxford and Cambridge Universities.

It will be moved to Cambridgeshire because of "uncertainty" over the state of Hammersmith Bridge and covid-related restrictions, organisers said.

The 2020 Boat Race was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A statement from The Boat Race Company Limited (BRCL) said: "The decision to relocate the 2021 event reflects the challenge of planning a high-profile amateur event around continuing Covid-related restrictions as well as uncertainty regarding the safety and navigation of Hammersmith Bridge.

"We are encouraging the millions of Boat Race fans to get involved at home."

The men's boat race has been held at Ely once before, in 1944 when the Second World War made it impossible to stage it in London.

Dr George Gilbert, chairman of BRCL's Race and Operations Committee, said: "Everyone is facing significant challenges right now, especially students up and down the country.

"Organising sport safely and responsibly is our highest priority and moving the Boat Race to Ely in 2021 enables the event to go ahead in a secure environment.

Athletes have been training under strict Covid-19 guidelines laid down by British Rowing, university sports departments and the Government.

Crews had two months on the water before the November lockdown in England, and since then student athletes have been training on rowing machines.