(Reuters) - Ticket sales for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England have been delayed to September as organisers said they will make more than 20,000 available free to healthcare workers on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
With the sports calendar set to be jam packed next year as events are moved from 2020 due to the pandemic, organisers will give themselves until September to release the match schedule for the tournament, which had been due to be released next month.
"Other sports, clubs, leagues and events have been acutely impacted by COVID-19 and our planning needs to be aligned and proportionate with the global crisis and respectful of more immediate needs," Jon Dutton, Chief Executive of RLWC2021, said in a media release on Thursday.
"We have done various aspects of scenario planning and we believe the current plan is the most suitable at this point, however we know we are required to be flexible and adapt as and when appropriate."
The opening match is at this stage scheduled for Oct 23. 2021 between hosts England and Samoa at St James' Park in Newcastle.
Dutton also confirmed that 20,021 tickets would be handed out to healthcare workers, saying their "work, effort, dedication and sheer determination needs to be recognised and hopefully we can provide these local heroes and their families with something to look forward to next year".
(Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge)