United Kingdom

British GP may receive exemption and run at full capacity if ‘freedom day’ is delayed

Talks have begun over making the British Grand Prix the first major outdoor event at full capacity since the coronavirus crisis began if Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces a delay to ‘freedom day’ until July 19.

Telegraph Sport has been told the Government and Silverstone have discussed designating the July 18 Formula One race a crowd pilot to exempt it from the current cap on attendance on such events of 10,000.

As revealed by Telegraph Sport, ministers are expected to sign off on both the knock-out stage of the European Championship at Wembley and the Wimbledon tennis championships being at up to 50 per cent capacity – even if ‘freedom day’ is postponed by up to four weeks from June 21.

That would inevitably lead to lobbying for similar concessions by other major events such as golf’s Open Championship, England rugby and cricket matches, rugby union’s Premiership final at Twickenham and rugby league’s Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

Telegraph Sport has been told a continuation of the current Covid-19 restrictions could prevent most summer sporting events operating at full capacity.

But the British Grand Prix may be granted a concession enjoyed only by snooker’s world championship final – albeit in a much smaller indoor arena.

As a 550-acre outdoor site, Silverstone is the largest major sporting venue in the UK, with its 70,000 grandstand seats spread around a 3.6-mile track.

The vast majority of the 120,000-plus spectators who usually attend a Grand Prix weekend also travel to the circuit by car.

That would avoid the prospect of thousands being crammed in together on public transport – something seen as far more likely to spread Covid-19 than a relaxation of social distancing in an outdoor grandstand.

Silverstone has been selling tickets on the basis of being at capacity and Telegraph Sport has been told it is close to a sell-out.

Having lost millions of pounds last year by staging back-to-back grands prix behind closed doors, it is desperate to avoid another major shortfall by being forced to cap attendance next month.

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