Boat Race 2017: Contest goes ahead after World War Two bomb removed from Thames

Mark Chandler
Boat Race: The event will go ahead: (Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

A World War Two bomb in the Thames which threatened to disrupt the annual Oxford versus Cambridge boat race has been safely removed, police say.

The device was spotted at 1.50pm on Saturday by a passing sailor on the Chelsea shoreline near Putney Bridge – the starting point of the boat race.

Scotland Yard said the bomb, which was submerged in the water, was assessed and removed by specialist officers on Sunday.

Organisers had always insisted the races would go ahead but there was speculation viewing areas could be affected as specialist officers worked at the scene.

Bomb: The Met had to call in specialist officers (Twitter/Adrian Bridgwater)

However, it was confirmed just after 1pm that the annual contest would go ahead as planned this afternoon.

Chief Inspector Tracy Stephenson said: "I'm very happy to update that the ordnance has now been safely removed and the race will be going ahead as planned.

“We have been working very closely with the organisers of the boat race to plan this event which is eagerly awaited by spectators and supporters alike."

Thousands of people are expected to line the banks of the Thames to watch the 163rd edition of the Boat Race between the two universities.

The men's event was due to start at 5.35pm, while the women's race - in its 72nd year - was set to begin at 4.35pm.

A spokeswoman for the event said the race was only ever called off during the First World War and Second World War.