The Crufts dog show has been cancelled amid the coronavirus pandemic, its organisers have announced.
The Kennel Club said it decided to cancel the event set for July 15-18 because of the ‘ongoing uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic’ and concerns about the safety of the thousands of participants had prompted the decision.
It comes despite the UK government setting a tentative date of June 21 for lifting all restrictions on social contact.
The Kennel Club said it took the decision ‘with deep regret’, but that it was looking ‘extremely unlikely’ that overseas judges and exhibitors would be able to attend ‘in light of recent announcements and the emergence of a third wave of coronavirus in Europe.’
It is the first time the annual event has been cancelled since 1954.
Maisie the Wire Haired Dachshund and owner Kim McCalmont from Gloucestershire celebrate after winning Best in Show on the last day of Crufts Dog Show last year
A man is embraced by a Great Dane dog on the third day of the Crufts dog show last year. This year’s event has been cancelled
The next edition of the four-day show, which features some 27,000 dogs, is now scheduled for March 2022.
Tom Mather, Crufts chairman, said in a statement: ‘We are very disappointed that we have had to cancel Crufts for the first time since 1954, in what would have been its 130th anniversary year, and it is a decision we have not taken lightly.’
Organisers said they surveyed dog enthusiasts in recent weeks and found 63 percent were uncomfortable about attending an indoor event.
Italian Spinone dogs wait to be shown on day 2 of the Cruft’s dog show at the NEC Arena on March 6, 2020
A woman sits with two Komondor dogs on the third day of the Crufts dog show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham last year
The dog show was one of the last major public events to go ahead in Britain in early March last year, as fears over virus cases mounted. It took place at the NEC exhibition centre in Birmingham in central England.
The Kennel Club had earlier pushed back this year’s event from March to July.
The show, first held in 1891, has been cancelled three times before: for World War I, World War II and due to strike action by electricians in 1954.
Last year Crufts said that dog entry numbers were down due to uncertainty on rules for animals’ entry during the Brexit transition period.