After winning his opening match of the 2021 World Darts Championship on Saturday evening, Michael van Gerwen had every right to feel chuffed with himself. The result meant he could drive home through the night via the Eurostar to the Netherlands, where his wife and two young children awaited him.
But after spending just two-hours with his loved ones, an announcement that the borders in many European nations would be shut to travellers into and out of the UK. And that left MVG with a decision – would he stay at home and spend Christmas with his family, or would he dash back to the UK in a bid to beat the ban?
Michael van Gerwen Races to Get to London
As a two-time champion and world number one, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that the Dutchman opted for the former, and in a mad race, he just managed to return to London before the travel ban was formally put in place. It means he will spend Christmas in his hotel room in the capital, but at least Van Gerwen won’t be alone – Vincent van der Voort, the best man at his wedding, is also into round three of the World Championship and will stay in London as a result.
MVG took to Twitter to explain his decision, writing: “Ok, so I spend Christmas in London, with new rules today, the decision made it simple for me. Hard to leave family but they understand and encourage me for this decision. Very important event for players.” The top seed will be hoping his sacrifice is worth it, and on January 3 we will find out the identity of the 2021 world champion.
Ok, so I spend Christmas in London, with new rules today, the decision made it simple for me. Hard to leave family but they understand and encourage me for this decision. Very important event for players, @OfficialPDC @WilliamHill @SkySportsDarts and fans. 👍
— Michael Van Gerwen (@MvG180) December 20, 2020
Festive Racing in Limbo Over Border Closures
As of right now, nobody in horse racing is quite sure how the travel ban will impact the sport. Flights and train journeys have largely been cancelled into and out of the UK, while ferries will be limited to freight travel only. So, the question is whether Irish and French horses will be allowed to compete in the various lucrative Christmas meetings in England and Wales, while there may be a suspension on British horses travelling to Leopardstown and other Irish tracks too.
The ban, which came into force from midnight on Sunday, is initially thought to last for 48 hours, however there is an increasing likelihood that this will be extended yet further. There is a number of key meetings taking place on Boxing Day and thereafter, with the King George and Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton Park possible victims of the international travel restrictions.
Heading in the other direction, British horses may not be able to contest Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival – that would have seen Thomas Darby, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle champion, making his bow in the Christmas Hurdle across the water. The sport awaits further news, with the hope that the previous decision from the HRI to allow jockeys competing in Grade 1 races to travel abroad will remain in place.