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Spectators could be fined £200 if they try to watch the world-famous Boat Race from the riverbank in Ely.

Notices have been put up on routes around the River Great Ouse, warning people to keep away from footpaths along the river when the race takes place. Due to coronavirus restrictions, the renowned race between rowers at Oxford and Cambridge Universities will be held behind closed doors this year.

The event normally takes place on the River Thames, but structural problems with Hammersmith Bridge and Covid-19 concerns means the race route will now be between Ely and Littleport in Cambridgeshire. Cambridgeshire County Council has closed 10 footpaths around the river while the race is happening to avoid crowds from gathering. The notices state that “failure to abide” could “lead to prosecution” with a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence and doubling upon further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

Security officials and workers from the Environment Agency have also been seen patrolling the river this week, looking for unusual activity. East Cambridgeshire District Council has told sports enthusiasts to watch the race on television from the comfort and safety of their homes.

Councillor Anna Bailey, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “After many months of organisation we had hoped that by the time the Boat Race was upon us we would be welcoming people to enjoy the event in person. Sadly this is not possible, but the safety of residents and the people involved is paramount and the roads, footpaths and the river in the area will be closed to public access. The closed event does not mean that anyone has to miss out. I urge everyone to settle down on their sofa, to tune in to the TV coverage on the BBC, and of course to shout loud in support of Cambridge.”

There will also be a number of Covid-19 marshals along the footpaths on race day to ensure the public stays away. The annual Oxford-Cambridge University Boat Race was first raced in 1829 and is now one of the world’s oldest and most famous amateur sporting events.

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 Daily Mail