London — The 149th Open Championship, which was to be played at Royal St George’s from July 16 to 19, had been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, golf’s governing body the R&A announced on Monday.

“The R&A has decided to cancel the Open in 2020 due to the current Covid-19 pandemic,” it said in a statement. . “The Championship will next be played at Royal St George’s in 2021.”

The Open was last held on the course in Kent on England’s southeast coast in 2011 when Darren Clarke claimed victory.

Martin Slumbers, CEO of the R&A, said the decision had been made with a “heavy heart”.

“We appreciate that this will be disappointing for a great many people around the world, but this pandemic is severely affecting the UK and we have to act responsibly,” he said.

“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing the Open this year, but it is not going to be possible.”

This is the first time since 1945 that the British Open will miss a year. Ireland’s Shane Lowry is the champion.