The 2021 Boat Race will be staged in Ely, Cambridgeshire for the first time since 1944, organisers have announced.

The annual contest between Oxford and Cambridge Universities will be switched from the River Thames to the Great Ouse in April due to "the challenge of planning a high-profile amateur event around continuing COVID-related restrictions as well as uncertainty regarding the safety and navigation of Hammersmith Bridge."

Hammersmith Bridge, which the races usually pass under, has been closed for 18 months because of structural problems.

Wandsworth Times:

Dr George Gilbert, chair of the Boat Race Company Limited's race and operations committee, said: "Everyone is facing significant challenges right now, especially students up and down the country.

"Organising sport safely and responsibly is our highest priority and moving The Boat Race to Ely in 2021 enables the event to go ahead in a secure environment."

Speaking on the news that the Boat Race will not take place in Putney next year, MP Fleur Anderson said:

“The news that the boat race won’t be in Putney next year is very disappointing. It’s another sign that life won’t be back to normal for many more months, and a huge blow for local businesses.

“It is important to stay COVID safe, but the main problem is that boats can’t go safely under Hammersmith Bridge.

“All year I’ve been joining local councils and MPs and asking Transport Minister Grant Shapps to fund the bridge restoration and he has refused to. I hope that the boat race news will be the wake-up call he needs to show how important it is to get a temporary crossing and fix the bridge.

“The closure of Hammersmith Bridge is causing daily misery for thousands and the government must at last step up and fund it so we can welcome the boat race back in 2022.”