Rugby League World Cup Chief Executive Officer Jon Dutton has opened up on the future of next year’s tournament.
The World Cup is due to start one year today (October 23) at St James’ Park in Newcastle, however there are doubts surrounding the tournament for obvious reasons.
With all professional sports in the UK still behind closed doors, Dutton has gone into details to explain the plan for the tournament in varying situations.
He said: “Scenario one is to stage the tournament of 750,000 spectators as planned – 52,000 at St James’ Park, 74,000 at Old Trafford and lots in between.
“The next option is clearly a socially distanced tournament. We are running different models on everything, from 25% capacity all the way up to just above 50%.
“That will be dictated to us. That is not something we can control. There are a lot of people who will go before us, with Premier League football and that strong desire to get people back into the stadiums.
“Hopefully, we will have had a full season of Super League here in the UK and the NRL in Australia.
“The other options available to us are postponement, moving the tournament back by 12 months.
“That is not something we are focused on. We have a very rigorous plan, with thoughts of all of the different consequences of that.”
Moving the World Cup to 2022 could also cause issues, with the tournament then in danger of going under the radar as it competes with a number of other international events that year.
Dutton added: “What I would say about 2022 is that it is an extremely busy year of sport.
“We have the Commonwealth Games here in the UK, the Women’s Football European Championship and the FIFA World Cup, which will dominate from a media’s perspective.
“The worst case scenario is that the tournament does not go ahead. What has been incredibly uplifting is that no one is talking about that.
“Everyone is talking about ‘how do we stage this tournament next autumn, starting on the 23rd of October?’
“Clearly, we need to keep being realistic, talking to the health professionals and seeing what is going to happen in this world we live in.
“I am more optimistic than ever before. We have really been comforted by our decision to go on sale and the vindication by the number of people who have made that pledge.”
You can now apply for tickets for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup by clicking here.