Nobody expected the news that the 163rd University Boat Race, an event that is held annually pitting Oxford and Cambridge Universities against each other on the River Thames, could be cancelled due to the most unlikely threat – an unexploded World War Two bomb.
BBC reported that a suspected device from World War Two was discovered near Putney Bridge on the banks of the famous London River and that bomb disposal experts won’t be able to get near the submerged object until the tide moves out to allow them to investigate further – which will be at 1am on the morning of the race.
The course, which stretches over four miles from Putney Bridge to Chiswick Bridge, will likely be swept now as a precaution but it’s a worrying time for all involved.
The race has been disrupted before
This has caused concern for the teams involved and fans of the race which began in 1829, but this isn’t a first. The world famous race has seen a few other hiccups in its 188-year history.
In 1912, after the sinking of the famous Titanic in the same month, both crews sank in turbulent wind and wave conditions of the 69th race. Both teams have subsequently sunk on numerous different occasions too, ranging from the 1850s up until the 1980s.
In 2012, Australian Trenton Oldfield swam into the path of both crews as a show of demonstration against governments cuts. He was jailed for six months for his public order offence.
The famous have participated in the race
Among other things, the race has a famous history for famous people. Actor Hugh Laurie took part in the 1980 boat race for team Oxford whilst four-time Olympic gold medallist, Sir Matthew Pinsent won twice with Oxford in 1990 and 1991.
Cambridge have had their share too. Lord Anthony Snowdon, famous husband of Princess Margaret and photographer for Vogue, won the 1950 boat race as their coxswain (the person who has responsibility for steering the boat and organising the rhythm of the rowers).
No decision has been made
Fans are waiting nervously for a verdict from the Metropolitan Police’s bomb disposal team.
The Standard obtained a comment from a Met spokesperson who said the decision on whether the race would go ahead or not would be decided on the day.