Covid-19 and the Cheltenham Festival

With the final furlong in sight for my Journalism course, there was one extra push needed to complete the final and most important exercise, the dreaded Thesis! Given that I was able to use my background in horse racing and my current role with Tote Ireland to complete several of the exercises I thought why change things now. I felt it fitting given the current climate to discuss the media coverage of the Cheltenham Festival going ahead amid a coronavirus pandemic that was sweeping through the world at a rate of knots.

The pictures beamed out during the Festival showing a racetrack packed with spectators when at the same time we were seeing horrific pictures from Europe and particularly Italy left people dumbfounded.

I may be biased coming from the industry I do and even I find it very difficult to defend the decision to allow nearly 250,000 descend on Cheltenham and perhaps stubbornly powering on through the four days. However, the media coverage needs to be seriously looked at and they may have taken aim at a perceived easy target when there were plenty of other areas which didn’t seem to come under as much scrutiny as racing for whatever reason. The amount of people who were passing through the betting ring at Cheltenham paled in comparison to those packed into the London tube stations at the same time. This all stemmed from a government decision to drive on with a herd immunity plan that turned out to be a grave error of judgment.

The optics of allowing the Festival to go ahead has given a serious black eye to a sport that continues to struggle with public perception, and it will take some time for it to recover from.

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