THIS year’s Wimbledon Championships could be postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELT) said on Wednesday (25).
The “build” for the June 29-July 12 championships was supposed to start in little over a month, but it looked increasingly likely that Wimbledon will be forced to miss a year for the first time since 1945.
The June 29-July 12 event will not be played behind closed doors and postponing the only Grand Slam grasscourt event until later in the year “is not without significant risk and difficulty”, the AELTC said in a statement.
“The unprecedented challenge presented by the Covid-19 crisis continues to affect our way of life in ways that we could not have imagined, and our thoughts are with all those affected in the UK and around the world,” chief executive Richard Lewis said.
“Our thoughts are with all those affected in theUKand around the world. The single most important consideration is one of public health, and we are determined to act responsibly through the decisions we make.
“We are working hard to bring certainty to our plans for 2020 and have convened an emergency meeting of the main board for next week, at which a decision will be made.”
The tournament so far survived the cull of the world’s most prestigious sporting events due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The AELTC has been contingency planning since January, working closely with theUKgovernment and public health authorities to follow their advice and understand the likely impact of COVID-19 and the government’s emergency measures on The Championships, and our thoughts are with all those affected by this crisis at this time,” said the statement.
“Based on the advice we have received from the public health authorities, the very short window available to us to stage The Championships due to the nature of our surface suggests that postponement is not without significant risk and difficulty.”
The Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam, was completed before the coronavirus crisis exploded to virtually shut down world sport, including the men’s ATP Tour and women’s WTA Tour.
The French Open last week made the decision to move the claycourt tournament to Sept. 20-Oct. 4 from its May start because of the outbreak.
While the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday potentially opened a two-week slot in the calendar in July/August, it would appear unlikely Wimbledon would use it.
Switching to a later time in the year is even less likely as Wimbledon has only two covered courts and elite outdoor grasscourt tennis is not feasible past late summer.
Wimbledon said it was communicating closely with the LTA, and with the ATP, WTA, ITF and the other Grand Slams.