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Cheltenham Festival underway in front of empty stands

Cheltenham Festival underway in front of empty stands
© Arpingstone
No crowds are in attendance this year, in line with Government coronavirus restrictions.

The Cheltenham Festival got under way on Tuesday without the vast crowds who usually attend the biggest racing event of the year.

The coronavirus pandemic was just beginning to take hold when the blue-riband meeting took place 12 months ago.

This year the stands are empty, in line with the Government's Covid-19 restrictions.

Here, the PA news agency looks at what a difference a year makes at the Festival.

Cheltenham Festival 2021 – Day One – Cheltenham Racecourse
The backdrop to the Festival is in stark contrast to last year (PA)
Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Gold Cup Day – Cheltenham Racecourse
The parade ring is normally buzzing before a race (Tim Goode/PA)
Cheltenham Festival 2021 – Day One – Cheltenham Racecourse
The 2021 version is eerily quiet (Tim Goode/PA)
Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Gold Cup Day – Cheltenham Racecourse
Winning horses and jockeys are usually cheered to the rafters (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Cheltenham Festival 2021 – Day One – Cheltenham Racecourse
This year the reception is very different (Tim Goode/PA)
Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Gold Cup Day – Cheltenham Racecourse
The grandstands were packed out by racegoers last year (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Cheltenham Festival 2021 – Day One – Cheltenham Racecourse
Now just trainers, their teams and other essential participants occupy the seats (Tim Goode/PA)
Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Ladies Day – Cheltenham Racecourse
On-course bookmakers usually enjoy their busiest week of the year (Tim Goode/PA)
Cheltenham Festival 2021 – Day One – Cheltenham Racecourse
This year the bookies' stalls are deserted (Tim Goode/PA)
Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Gold Cup Day – Cheltenham Racecourse
The Guinness Village is always a popular hang-out (Tim Goode/PA)
Cheltenham Festival Gallops – March 15th
Now it is unrecognisable from last year (David Davies/PA)
Cheltenham Festival 2021 – Day One – Cheltenham Racecourse
The home straight, 12 months ago and now (PA)
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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina1671033
JapanJapan154625
United StatesUnited States14161141
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia912930
AustraliaAustralia921122
Great BritainGreat Britain58821
Today's Olympic highlights header

Friday's key events


ATHLETICS
· The athletics schedule begins, with 100m sprinter Dina Asher-Smith among the names in action on the opening day. The men's 10,000m final concludes the action, with Team GB's Sam Atkin and Marc Scott taking part in the absence of 2012 and 2016 champion Sir Mo Farah (1am-2.30pm)

ROWING
· Victoria Thornley is Team GB's representative in the women's single sculls final (1.33am)
· Great Britain will be going for gold in the men's eight final (2.25am)

SWIMMING
· Team GB duo Molly Renshaw and Abbie Wood take part in the women's 200m breaststroke final, but new Olympic record-holder Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa is the hot favourite (2.41am)
· Luke Greenbank has very realistic ambitions of picking up a medal in the men's 200m backstroke final (2.50am)
· There is also British representation in the women's 100m freestyle final, although any medal for Anna Hopkin would be a surprise (2.59am)
· With one gold and one silver already under his belt at these Games, Duncan Scott goes again in the men's 200m individual medley final (3.16am)

TRAMPOLINE
· Bryony Page will be looking to repeat her 2016 heroics in the women's event (5am-7.30pm)

CANOE SLALOM
· Bradley Forbes-Cryans will be looking to emulate Rio gold medallist Joe Clarke in the men's kayak event (6am-9am)

FOOTBALL
· The women's tournament enters the quarter-finals, with Great Britain facing Australia at the Ibaraki Kashima Stadium (10am)

> Today's schedule in full
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