World-famous Boat Race organisers urge fans to stay at home

University of Cambridge boat crew work out along the River Great Ouse near Ely, Cambridgeshire.

Organisers of the world-famous Boat Race taking place on the River Great Ouse at Ely on April 4 are urging fans to stay at home and watch the event on TV. - Credit: PA

Organisers of the world-famous Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race set to take place in Ely next month have asked fans to stay at home and watch the event on TV.  

With current Covid-19 restrictions still in place, there will be no access for any spectators when the event takes place on the River Great Ouse on Sunday, April 4.  

The event will instead by broadcast live on TV on BBC One between 3pm and 5.30pm, allowing fans to watch the race without leaving their homes.  

Dr George Gilbert, chair of The Boat Race Company’s race organising committee, said: “We’re excited to be able to deliver the races in this way, following a challenging 12 months for sport. 

“Working with Cambridgeshire County Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council and the Environment Agency, the event site will be closed.  

“This is to ensure the safety of the local community, and all of those involved with the event, and to stop spectators from gathering, with a heightened stewarding and police presence on the ground. 

“Within the event perimeter, staff will be working to COVID guidelines, wearing PPE and following strict distancing.  

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“Crews and contractors will be in bubbles, and protocols will be in place to aid COVID-safe movement around the site. 

“Whilst we understand the excitement in Ely and Littleport of one of the world’s most famous sporting events taking place on their doorstep, we must urge residents in the immediate and wider areas to stay away from the event, to avoid putting their safety and the safety of others at risk, and ultimately jeopardising the event.  

“We hope that the local community understand and support the measures we’re putting in place, which will be key in delivering a safe and successful event. 

“For the safety of the athletes, your family, friends and the local community, please stay at home, watch the BBC’s world-class coverage of the races and join the conversation on social media.” 

The Gemini Boat Race is an annual contest between Oxford and Cambridge Universities and this year sees the 166th Men’s Race and 75th Women’s Race. 

Cambridge are the defending champions in the Men’s and Womens’ races and athletes have been training for the event since September 2020. 

The 2021 race, between Ely and Littleport, will be contested over a 4.89km non-tidal course.