Boat Race: 2021 races to be moved from the Thames to Ely over safety concerns

Cambridge celebrate victory in 2019
Cambridge men and women both triumphed in 2019

The 2021 men's and women's Boat Race will be moved from the Thames and instead be staged in April on the Great Ouse at Ely in Cambridgeshire.

Organisers say the decision was taken both in light of ongoing Covid-related restrictions and uncertainty over the safety of Hammersmith Bridge.

The men's race has previously been run once at Ely, in 1944, when the war made it impossible to stage in London.

Next year will see the 166th men's and the 75th women's events.

The 2020 races were both cancelled because of the global pandemic.

Hammersmith Bridge, which opened in 1887, has been closed to pedestrians since August and boats prevented from passing underneath after cracks in the structure worsened during a heatwave.

It was already closed to traffic because of the issue and must now undergo significant repairs.

Organisers want fans to watch the 2021 race at home and are working with local authorities to ensure a safe event for the local community, crews and coaches, as well as the volunteers and contractors helping to stage the races.

"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," said Dr George Gilbert, chair of The Boat Race Company Limited's Race and Operations Committee.

"While we are sad not to be able to welcome the usual hundreds of thousands of spectators along the course, we will be inviting our communities and wider audience to get involved via our social media channels, and to enjoy the historic event on the BBC."

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