The future of Scotland's iconic Highland Games could be at risk, after a flurry of cancellations in recent days due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

One organiser said the outlook was ‘bleak’, with more events expected to be cancelled in the coming months.

Already 13 games, staged between May and September, have been called off over concerns about the potential impact of travel restrictions and social distancing - including the games on Skye, at Glamis Castle in Angus and Cupar in Fife.

HeraldScotland: From 2019's Braemar GatheringFrom 2019's Braemar Gathering

Events in Kenmore in Perthshire, Lochcarron in the Highlands and Tomintoul in Moray have also been called off.

The annual events generate more than £25 million for the economy each year, with one in four visitors hailing from abroad.

Ian Grieve, secretary of the Scottish Highland Games Association, which oversees more than 60 events, described the situation as "difficult" for organisers.

He said: “We thought we would just write off the whole season last year and everything would be back to normal in 2021.

“But I really don’t know if any will happen this year.

HeraldScotland: From 2019's Braemar GatheringFrom 2019's Braemar Gathering

“It's looking pretty bleak already with 13 events cancelled and we’re not even out of February."

Members face looming deadlines to decide whether to commit resources for events without knowing how financially viable they will be if audience numbers are capped.

Mr Grieve added: “I’d expect to see a few more cancel in the next month, especially those due to happen in May and June.

“Later ones will maybe hang fire till April before they start committing expenditure.

“Each will have their own cut-off point.

"But there was nothing at all in the First Minister’s announcement this week about mass gatherings.

HeraldScotland: From 2019's Braemar GatheringFrom 2019's Braemar Gathering

“We just need to keep our fingers crossed that the combination of the lockdown we’ve been in and the vaccine makes things a bit more manageable.

“But it’s all very difficult for everyone at the moment.”

Last year was the first time since World War Two that games on Skye have been called off.

A statement from the Isle of Skye Highland Games said: “Although things are hopefully improving there can be no guarantee as to what the situation will be like in August.

"Apart from the two World Wars, our Games have never had to be cancelled (until last year), but these are difficult times and the health and wellbeing of our community has to be our main priority.”

A statement from Strathmore Highland Games, staged at Glamis Castle, said they had "truly hoped" the cancellation of last year's event would be a one-off situation. 

HeraldScotland: From 2019's Braemar GatheringFrom 2019's Braemar Gathering

It continued that organisers had hoped they would be "ready to showcase the best of games talent this year in a welcoming and safe manner.

"Having studied the most recent Scottish Government guidelines for large events, we are in no doubt that this is the only responsible action we can take.”

A statement from Cupar Highland Games read: “The decision has been taken in light of the current Covid-19 situation and the strong likelihood that some form of limitations on gatherings may well extend into the summer period.

“A further factor in our consideration is that travel and tourism is unlikely to return to anywhere near to normal conditions.”