30 September 2020

PDC World Darts Championship could move away from Alexandra Palace, says Barry Hearn

The 2021 PDC World Darts Championship could be forced away from its usual home of Alexandra Palace due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to chairman Barry Hearn.

The 28th edition of the tournament is due to get underway on December 13 and runs right through the festive period up to the final on January 4.

Peter Wright is the current world champion (PA)

And while Hearn remains hopeful developments in COVID-19 testing will allow Ally Pally to stage the tournament, he admits he has his concerns.

"I'm so frustrated, I don't know," he told Sky Sports when asked whether the World Championships could move away from the famous venue.

"The trouble is, it's not a question of taking it somewhere else in the world, because by the time you get there, they might have a COVID-19 problem themselves and the whole thing is thrown out.

"In the back of my mind, the one per cent dream is that we can create a very speedy and possibly saliva-based test which can mean that we can prove that everybody in an arena is negative. Then, we could have live crowds and not socially distance - can we do that in time for December?

"There are people in America who are trying to do it at the moment. That would be brilliant."

Due to the recent rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the UK, the government’s initial plan to welcome back sports crowds in October has been cancelled.

It is not yet known when audiences will be able to return, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned the current social distancing measures could be in place until March.

When the tournament does get underway, Peter Wright will defend the crown he won back in January as he bids to become the first man since Gary Anderson in 2016 to retain the title.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox