AP McCoy says ‘lives were lost’ due to Cheltenham Festival in dig at government

AP McCoy believes 'a lot of lives were lost' as a result of allowing the Cheltenham Festival 2020 to go ahead amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The retired jockey made the claim on ITV's Good Morning Britain on Monday, and pitched blame at the UK government's door rather than that of the festival's organisers.

Over 250,000 people attended the four-day racing event in Gloucestershire from March 10-13.

There was widespread debate at the time as to whether the festival should go ahead, and McCoy feels looking back, the wrong decision was taken.

"I suppose in hindsight, it's always easy isn't it," he told GMB. "With Cheltenham they were following at the time the government guidelines.

"They were the ones that had asked for advice. I suppose that will be the same when we stopped and when do we go back – the same people will be making decisions.

"Look, the reality of it is that a lot of lives have been lost because of it. And who knows, when do we go back, is it too soon, or is it not too soon, if we lose more lives at the end of it all – I don't know.

"Hindsight is a great thing – I think no one knows."

In the same week of the festival, Arsenal's Premier League clash with Man City was postponed, while England's Six Nations rugby clash with Italy was also called off.

Italy had already entered lockdown the day prior to the festival getting under way, but no restrictions were put in place to stop Cheltenham going ahead, with the UK only going into lockdown 10 days after the event had finished.

Several celebrities have since suggested they caught coronavirus at the festival while a large number of people made similar admissions over social media.

Southampton striker Charlie Austin was among those to claim he had contracted coronavirus at the festival and experienced symptoms in the days following.

The UK has so far recorded more than 10,000 deaths from coronavirus since the pandemic began.

A spokesman for Cheltenham Festival and organisers The Jockey Club said previously: "The festival went ahead under Government guidance to do so, like other sports events at Twickenham, Murrayfield, 10 Premier League matches and the UEFA Champions League, all with full houses that same week.

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