Cheltenham Festival Goers Slammed for “Gambling With Our Lives”

  • Thousands of Irish people went over to England to attend the Cheltenham Racing Festival
  • Irish politicians expressed concerns that the event was going ahead amid rising coronavirus fears
  • Numerous major public gatherings have been canceled in Ireland as a preventive measure
  • Despite a confirmed case in Cheltenham, 60,000 people still turned up on the opening day
jockey races his horse at the Cheltenham Festival
Irish politicians have slammed Cheltenham festival-goers for their lack of concern over the coronavirus spread. [Image:]

Politicians in Ireland express concerns

Politicians in Ireland have spoken out against people who are traveling to the Cheltenham racing festival this week, increasing chances of the coronavirus spreading even further. Many thousands of Irish racing fans make the trip over to England to be part of the Cheltenham Racecourse activities every year.

Irish MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan took to Twitter to share his views, saying the festival-goers are “gambling with our lives”:

He later tweeted, “As a result of this people are more likely to die from #coronavirus Welcome to selfishville.”

Many events in Ireland, such as the upcoming St Patrick’s Day parade and international rugby matches, have already been called off. On March 10, confirmation came through that the 2020 Irish Open for poker would be postponed.

Irish Social Democrat TD Catherine Murphy also reportedly maintained that going ahead with the racing with such a big crowd in a confined space was “highly risky.” She said, “I know it’s up to the British government but it’s the same set of reasons why we’ve canceled [the St Patrick’s Day parade], I think should have applied to this one.”

Calls to cancel festival shut down

A number of nations have scrapped large public gatherings for fear of rapidly spreading the COVID-19 virus, but calls to cancel the Cheltenham Festival were shut down. The opening day on Monday saw more than 60,000 attendees.

opening day on Monday saw more than 60,000 attendees

The town of Cheltenham has already identified one coronavirus case. A couple of cases were also confirmed in nearby Gloucestershire.

Extra measures put in place

The Cheltenham Festival is worth a huge amount of money to the English economy each year. The income generated from the event was one of the main reasons why the racing was not canceled.

The racetrack has put measures in place to limit any potential issues. These include dozens of hand sanitizer pumps across the facility and a pop-up pharmacy stocking a range of different medical supplies.

More hand basins were installed in the toilet facilities, with extra attendants hired for the event. Extensive signage around the venue reminds patrons of best practices to help curb coronavirus spread. 

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