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Games, races in UK on hold after queen’s death
Several sporting events in Britain were called off as a mark of respect following the death of Queen Elizabeth II at the age of 96 on Thursday, as tributes were made in her honor throughout the sports world.
Golf’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth was suspended for Thursday and Friday.
“On behalf of our members and everyone connected with the European Tour group and the BMW PGA Championship, it is with great sadness that we have learned of the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,” the DP World Tour said in a statement.
“She was truly an inspiration to the people the world over. … Our deepest sympathies and condolences are with the Royal Family at this time.”
The All England Club said the queen undertook her duties “with great wisdom, dignity and charm for 70 years.”
The DP World Tour said that all facilities at the club in Surrey, England, will remain closed Friday and that further updates on the resumption of play will be provided at a later time. Flags at the Wentworth Club were lowered to half-staff.
Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and a rock of stability across much of a turbulent century, died Thursday after 70 years on the throne.
Buckingham Palace announced that she died at Balmoral Castle, her summer residence in Scotland, where members of the royal family had rushed to her side after her health took a turn for the worse.
England’s Tommy Fleetwood and Andy Sullivan are tied for the lead in the BMW PGA Championship, having completed their first round at 8 under. There were 30 golfers still on the course when play was suspended.
“We are greatly saddened to learn of the passing of Her Majesty today,” Peter Forster, the captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, said via a statement. “Following her accession in 1952, Her late Majesty graciously accepted the Patronage of The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, as has been the custom of reigning Monarchs since HM King William IV in 1834.
“Although not a golfer, Her late Majesty’s 70-year patronage of the club was a great honour for its members. We hold His Majesty The King and all The Royal Family in our thoughts at this time of mourning.”
In 1966, Elizabeth handed the Jules Rimet Trophy to England captain Bobby Moore when the national soccer team won the men’s World Cup by beating West Germany at Wembley Stadium.
The Premier League had yet to announce plans for this weekend’s soccer matches, but the league issued a statement on Twitter.
“The Premier League is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Her Majesty The Queen, Elizabeth II,” the statement read. “Our thoughts and condolences are with The Royal Family and everyone around the world mourning the loss of Her Majesty.”
The Premier League is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Her Majesty The Queen, Elizabeth II. Our thoughts and condolences are with The Royal Family and everyone around the world mourning the loss of Her Majesty. pic.twitter.com/UlaLXEOdke
— Premier League (@premierleague) September 8, 2022
The English Football League, which runs the three divisions below the Premier League, called off its games that had been scheduled to be played Friday evening and said a decision would be made on Friday morning about weekend games after discussions with the British government and wider sport.
Manchester United’s Europa League game against Real Sociedad did take place hours after the queen’s death was announced. There was a minute’s silence before kickoff at Old Trafford, with both teams wearing black armbands and the flags at stadium lowered to half-staff as a sign of respect. There was no prematch music and the digital advertising hoardings around the field were switched off.
There was a minute’s silence in other European games involving British teams, such as Arsenal, West Ham and Hearts.
“Her deeds have marked generations,” Brazil soccer great Pele, who met the queen in person when she visited Rio de Janeiro in 1968, posted to Twitter. “This legacy will last forever.”
Queen Elizabeth II long had ties to the sporting community, having knighted dozens of athletes during her reign, including tennis player Andy Murray, cyclist Bradley Wiggins and long-distance runner Mo Farah.
“We would like to pause to remember Queen Elizabeth II,” the stadium announcer said. “Our thoughts are with the people today of the United Kingdom. Remember to be part of us in a second of silence.”
Queen Elizabeth II attended matches at Wimbledon in 1957, 1962, 1977 and 2010. In 1977, the championship’s centenary year, she watched British player Virginia Wade win the women’s singles title.
She also was a big fan of horses, owning dozens of them, and attended races regularly, including the Kentucky Derby in 2007. Horse races in at least five different countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States, are named after her.
She first rode a horse at the age of 3 — and was immediately besotted with them — and would inherit the breeding and racing stock of her father, King George VI, when she acceded to the throne in 1952.
“My philosophy about racing is simple,” she said in a BBC documentary, “The Queen’s Racehorses: A Personal View.” “I enjoy breeding a horse that is faster than other people’s.
“And to me, that is a gamble from a long way back. I enjoy going racing but I suppose, basically, I love horses, and the thoroughbred epitomizes a really good horse to me.”
The queen had approaching 2,000 winners as a racehorse owner, with her jockeys always wearing purple, gold and scarlet — the colors of the storied royal racing silks also used by her father and by her great-grandfather King Edward VII.
Her first winner was a horse called Monaveen, at Fontwell in 1949, and she went on to win all of the so-called “classics” in British horse racing except for The Derby, another event she attended for most of her life.
One of the queen’s most famous wins came at Royal Ascot in 2013 when Estimate became the first horse owned by a reigning monarch to win the prestigious Gold Cup. It was her first win in an elite race since 1989, and she was seen clapping enthusiastically as jockey Ryan Moore powered through to finish first by a neck in front of 61,000 racegoers.
The British Horseracing Authority announced all racing would be suspended Thursday and Friday to remember Queen Elizabeth II’s “extraordinary life and contribution to our sport and our nation.”
“Her Majesty has been one of the greatest and most influential supporters in the history of horseracing,” a statement read. “Her passion for racing and the racehorse shone brightly throughout her life, not only through her close involvement in breeding and racing horses, but in her roles as a patron of The Jockey Club and Thoroughbred Breeders Association, and as the figurehead of Royal Ascot.
“It is right, therefore, that all racing is suspended for today and tomorrow as we begin to grieve Her Majesty’s passing and remember her extraordinary life and contribution to our sport and our nation.”
The queen made a personal appearance at the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics in London.
Less than two hours after the announcement had been made about the death of the queen, the members of Great Britain’s basketball team took the court in a 90-56 loss to Italy in a EuroBasket game.
“I mean, she’s the only leader of our nation that we’ve known,” Great Britain forward Dan Clark said. “The amount of respect that she has and the way she’s carried herself as a leader for so many years and in such a long reign, it’s remarkable.”
Added coach Nathan Reinking: “It’s just hard. That’s who you play for. You play for the country. And she’s been at the forefront for so many years … it was a different, challenging situation to go through.”
The weigh-in for Saturday’s undisputed middleweight championship fight between Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall will take place behind closed doors Friday and won’t be open to the public. The status for Saturday’s fight at the O2 Arena in London is still to be determined.
The England and Wales Cricket Board said Friday’s play in the second test between England and South Africa at the Oval would not take place.
Organizers of cycling’s Tour of Britain declared the race over after canceling Friday’s stage as well as two more over the weekend. Gonzalo Serrano, who led after Thursday’s stage, was named the winner.
In a statement, Formula One said it sends “its deepest condolences to the Royal Family and to the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.”
Domestic rugby matches in England and Scotland were called off on Thursday and games will not be played over the weekend, either.
The Rugby Football Union paid its respects on social media, saying it was “very saddened to hear of the death of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II and offer our condolences to the whole Royal Family at this time.”
With the death of the queen, her son Charles automatically becomes monarch, even though the coronation might not take place for months. Royal officials said the 73-year-old had chosen to call himself King Charles III.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.