Tom Phillips, Head of Middle East at European Tour Golf, is optimistic that spectators will be in attendance when the DP World Tour Championship plays out later in the year.
The season-ending golf event, which is the culmination of the Race to Dubai, has been moved to December from its traditional November date 19-22. The Championship, which takes place on the Earth Course at the sprawling Jumeirah Golf Estates, is scheduled for December 10-13.
And Phillips, who was appointed to the role last year, is hopeful that the Covid-19 pandemic will tide over and the Jumeirah Golf Estates will be able to welcome fans.
""In terms of spectators, our first six events in the UK will be played behind closed doors. However, we are looking into the possibility of spectator attendance for events played later in 2020, but we are not committed to it at this stage," Phillips said on the sidelines of the 'Return of Spectators to Sports Stadiums' forum on Wednesday.
Top officials from the DSC, Dubai Police, representatives from the European Tour and UAE football as well as former Spain and Real Madrid star Michel Salgado met at Al Nasr club's Al Maktoum Stadium on Wednesday to discuss precautionary measures and protocols for the safe return of spectators to sports events when competitions resume following months of stoppage due to Covid-19.
"It completely depends on risk mitigation, government approval of the country we are in and adhering to general and overarching global health guidelines. Golf is not a stadium sport, but there are considerations unique to our events. All tournaments will be subject to the Tour's comprehensive Health Strategy, which will continue to evolve, aligned with international Government guidance and health guidelines," the former CEO of the Faldo Series added.
Normally, the DP World Tour Championship attracts more than 60,000 fans across the four days.
The Tour, with a revised schedule, resumes on July 22 with the British Masters at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in the UK.
It is the first of six events in the UK that forms the British swing and runs until the end of August. It includes the English Open in Birmingham, the English Championship at Hertfordshire, the Celtic Classic and the Wales Open at The Celtic Manor in Wales and the UK Championship at The Belfry in Sutton.
"As a global golf tour, The European Tour's international reach is our greatest strength, but it has also been our greatest challenge as we look to return to competition," said Phillips.
"We run professional golf tournaments in 30-plus countries across the world, so that means dialogue with 30 different governing bodies and authorities, each with their own guidelines and unique situation," he added.
Phillips said the Tour was delighted to have the season hit the ground running.
"Despite this challenge, last week we were excited to announce the resumption of our 2020 season, starting on July 22 with a swing of events across the UK. Multiple events in one region will allow us to adopt strict health and safety measures.We have also announced new dates for four of our Rolex Series events, including the season-ending DP World Tour Championship here in Dubai at Jumeirah Golf Estates from December 10-13, where once again the winner of the 2020 Race to Dubai will be crowned," Phillips said.
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