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Golfer Olesen's ban lifted after sex assault trial delayed

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London (AFP)

Ryder Cup winner Thorbjorn Olesen was cleared Thursday to return to playing on the European Tour after his trial on charges including sexual assault was delayed until the end of next year.

Olesen, a member of the victorious 2018 European Ryder Cup team, was arrested at London's Heathrow Airport last July upon his return from the World Golf Championships-FedEx St Jude Invitational in Memphis.

He was suspended by the tour in August after being charged with sexual assault, being drunk on an aircraft and common assault.

The 30-year-old pleaded not guilty to all three charges in December and was due to return to court for his trial starting May 11.

The Dane had agreed with tour officials it would be inappropriate from him to continue playing in events until the end of his trial, but delays in legal proceedings due to the coronavirus pandemic resulted in the lifting of his suspension.

"While my team and I initially agreed that I would not participate in Tour events while the legal proceedings were outstanding, I am naturally grateful to the European Tour for allowing me to continue my career following the lengthy adjournment of my trial," said Olesen.

"Obviously, the case itself is still ongoing so I will continue to make no comment about it."

The health crisis and subsequent backlog in the legal process have delayed Olesen's trial until December 6, 2021 at the earliest -- 854 days from when his suspension began on August 6 last year.

"Due to this significant and unparalleled delay in the legal process, the European Tour has agreed that his suspension be lifted with immediate effect, allowing him to compete while he continues to contest the case," the European Tour said in a statement.

"This will be reviewed following the conclusion of the legal process, but as this is an on-going legal matter the European Tour will be making no further comment at this time."

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