The R&A cancelled the 2020 playing of the British Open Championship on April 6, formally bringing down the curtain on the playing of the game's oldest major championship this year.
The tournament was slated to be played July 16-19 at Royal St. George's in England.
“Our absolute priority is to protect the health and safety of the fans, players, officials, volunteers and staff involved in The Open," said Martin Slumbers, the chief executive of the R&A, in a statement. "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 this pandemic is severely affecting the UK and we have to act responsibly. 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."
Instead, the 149th Open will be played next year at Royal St. George's from July 15-18.
The 150th British Open Championship will be played in 2022 at the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland from July 14-17, fulfilling the R&A's original goal of having the 150th Open played at the Home of Golf. With future British Open venues announced through 2024, it's likely the next four Open hosts will have to be pushed back by a year.
“There are many different considerations that go into organizing a major sporting event of this scale," Slumbers said. "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."
The cancellation marks the first time since 1945 that the Open has been called off. During World War II, the Open was cancelled for six consecutive years.
The R&A will transfer over tickets and hospitality packages purchased for this year to next year, and those who cannot or do not want to attend in 2021 will be able to receive a full refund.
“Most of all I would like to thank our fans around the world and all of our partners for their support and understanding," Slumbers said. "At a difficult time like this we have to recognize that sport must stand aside to let people focus on keeping themselves and their families healthy and safe. We are committed to supporting our wider community in the weeks and months ahead and will do everything in our power to help golf come through this crisis.”