Sport in the UK has been given the go-ahead to resume behind closed doors from June 1 by the UK government.
After a near three-month shutdown, all competitive sport in Britain can resume from June 1 behind closed doors provided strict conditions are met, the government said on Saturday.
The first major live event is expected to be the 2000 Guineas horse race at Newmarket on June 6.
No competitive top-level sport has taken place in Britain since March as the country deals with the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 38,000 people in the UK.
In a document published on Saturday by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden outlined the strict criteria that must be met to allow elite athletes and professional sportsmen to resume.
“The wait is over. Live British sport will shortly be back on in safe and carefully controlled environments,” he said.
“This guidance provides the safe framework for sports to resume competitions behind closed doors. It is now up to individual sports to confirm they can meet these protocols and decide when it’s right for them to restart.”
Dowden also confirmed that preparations were being finalised for the Premier League and English Football League to return to action in June.
Premier League shareholders this week agreed a return to contact training with a provisional restart date for of June 17, provided all safety requirements are in place.
“The Premier League welcomes the government’s announcement today,” a statement from the Premier League said.
“All major sports, including the Premier League, have been working with DCMS to produce the stage three protocol.
“We have provisionally planned to restart the Premier League on June 17, but there is still much work to be done to ensure the safety of all involved.”
The government’s stage three guidance for staging competitive sporting events includes conditions such as players travelling alone to venues, being screened for coronavirus symptoms and maintaining social distancing where possible.
Meanwhile, the English Premier League revealed late of Saturday that there were no positive results from its latest round of COVID-19 testing, providing a timely confidence boost for the planned June 17 restart.
A total of 1130 players and club personnel were tested in the fourth screening session, which took place on Thursday and Friday, and yielded the first all-clear.
The news is likely to offer some measure of relief and reassurance over the league’s scheduled resumption next month and comes at an apt moment after the UK government made a point of telling the public “football is back” as part of a wider announcement on the return of elite sport.
A statement read: “The Premier League can today confirm that on Thursday 28 May and Friday 29 May, 1130 players and club staff were tested for COVID-19. Of these, zero have tested positive.”