May 11, 2020 / 2:18 PM / 2 months ago

Sport: No elite sport in England until at least June 1, says government

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v Watford - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - February 23, 2020 General view of a match ball held by Manchester United's David de Gea during the warm up before the match Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith /File Photo

(Reuters) - Elite sport in England cannot return until at least June 1 and will have to take place without spectators present, a government document containing guidelines on easing lockdown restrictions said on Monday.

Most professional sport in England has been suspended since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

English Premier League clubs are meeting on Monday to discuss Project Restart, which aims for top-flight football to resume next month. Cricket and rugby authorities in England have said their sports will not resume until July.

The news however, is a blow to British horse racing, which had hoped to resume behind closed doors later this month.

The government guidance concerning the easing of restrictions on elite sport is laid out in “step two” of the document, and will be made no earlier than June 1.

Step two includes “permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed doors for broadcast while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact,” the guidelines say.

The resumption of elite sport is contingent on the most up-to-date assessment of the risk posed by the virus and the June 1 date will be delayed if certain conditions are not met.

Reopening venues such as sports grounds “may only be fully possible significantly later depending on the reduction in numbers of infections”, the document adds.

Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris

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