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"It's all systems go until Friday" | Cheltenham dealing with coronavirus?

Ciaran Bradley
Ciaran Bradley

21:35 10 Mar 2020

John Duggan joined Off The Ball to discuss the safety arrangements in place at the Cheltenham Festival.

This year's showpiece event in the racing calendar has been greeted by frank bemusement and concern that a gathering of 60,000 people has been allowed to go ahead on the backdrop of a potential coronavirus epidemic.

Duggan said that the situation had been reviewed by the festival organisers, but the question remains as to whether that should have been taken out of their hands by the British government.

"I asked [about coronavirus with] Ian Renton, the boss at Cheltenham and the communication is that it is all systems go until Friday, with the crowds," said Duggan.

"I get the sense that they were either going to hold the festival, which they are doing now, or they were going to call it off - that is my sense.

"What I will say is that crowds are down from 67,000 to 60,000 today - it was a little bit muted.

"I do this tweet every year, where I say 'welcome to the jungle' on Twitter, because it is Cheltenham and it is a pretty big deal.

"I put that tweet out about 12:30, and there is a lot of people reacting to it with real displeasure. I don't know if that is just the social media sphere."

Duggan continued by asking whether there will be serious consideration taken to hosting Liverpool's last-16 second leg against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League behind closed doors.

"I don't know what is happening in Liverpool tomorrow now, for example.

"I put out the tweet innocently, to mark an enjoyable occasion, but I think we are in a much more serious situation now.

"We might look back on this week and say 'was it worth doing this?'

"We are in the lap of the gods around those judgements."

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Cheltenham Horse Racing John Duggan Racing

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