Skip to content

Historic Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreak


LONDON — The annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race, which dates back to 1829, has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Organizers say the decision to call off the March 29 race was "based entirely on our concern for the welfare of our crews, our spectators, our staff and volunteers."

Crowds estimated as big as 250,000 have traditionally packed both sides of the River Thames on race day. The current championship course runs 6.8 kilometres between Putney and Mortlake on the River Thames in southwest London.

The first Boat Race was in 1829, but did not become an annual event until 1856. There were also interruptions during the two world wars, with the last time the race was not held being 1945.

"Given the unprecedented situation our country and each of us as individuals faces, the public good far outweighs all other considerations," Robert Gillespie, chairman of the Boat Race Company, said in a statement.

"Cancellation of the Boat Race is therefore clearly the correct decision, but it is not without sad consequence. Our thoughts are very much with the athletes who have worked so hard and made immense sacrifices to represent their University and are now unable to do so."

"To cancel is not an easy decision and we realize this news will undoubtedly disappoint all those who look forward to the race each year — whether watching on the riverbanks, on TV or online."

Canadians who have competed in the men's or women's races in recent years include Malcolm Howard, Tom Watson, Tom Swartz, Ashton Brown and Emma Lukasiewicz.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 16, 2020.

The Canadian Press