One of the most prominent and popular fixtures in the Highland games calendar has been cancelled for 2020.
Organisers of the Braemar Gathering said they had to take the “difficult but necessary” decision to call off the event, which was due to be held on Saturday, September 5, in the interest of public safety from coronavirus.
Every year guests and competitors from across the world travel to the north-east for the games, which have been held regularly since 1832.
They are often attended by senior royals including The Queen and Prince Charles.
David Geddes, president of the Braemar Royal Highland Society, said: “It’s been a very difficult decision to make, and to cancel a gathering is something which I had hoped I would never have to do in my time as president.
“However, the uncertainty and continued spread of the outbreak, which threatens the wellbeing of our community, visitors and volunteers has meant we have put safety at the forefront of our considerations for this year’s gathering.
“Being one of the last events of the highland games year we had hoped that we might still be able to run the gathering as normal and have been working towards that.
“The recent updates on the continued spread of Covid-19, travel restrictions and instructions from the Scottish and UK governments have shown that this will not now be possible without putting folk at risk.”
He added: “We know the gathering is a highlight in many people’s year and an event which many make plans well in advance for.
“We share your disappointment and offer our hope and thoughts that you stay well and keep safe in the days ahead.
“Like the hills around Braemar, the gathering will be here next year, and we look forward to happier times and to welcoming you here in 2021.”
Next year’s event has already been scheduled for Saturday, September 4.
The organisers say all tickets bought for the 2020 games will be honoured and valid in 2021.
UPDATE: Two other prominent Aberdeenshire highland games have also been called off this morning.
The Aboyne Highland Games, which were due to take place on August 1, and the Lonach Highland Gathering and Games, due to take place on August 22, will both no longer be going ahead because of the ongoing pandemic.
It is the first time since 1945 that the Aboyne Games has been cancelled.
The annual event, which is now 153-years-old, brings around 10,000 visitors a year to Aboyne and has been estimated to bring around £450,000 to the Royal Deeside economy every year.
The Aboyne games chairman Alistair Grant said it was not an easy decision to make for the committee, but said that the health and wellbeing of residents, competitors, visitors, judges and other partners was “the most important factor”.
A rescheduled Aboyne Highland Games will take place on August 7, 2021.
The Lonach Gathering, which was due to be celebrating its 179th year in 2020, has also been cancelled for the first time since 1945.
The committee is now planning for the 2021 event which will take place on August 28 next year instead.