Coronavirus Outbreak: Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since World War II, announces All England Club

Wimbledon has been a regular fixture to the sport since 1877. It has only been cancelled from 1915 to 1918 because of World War I and again from 1940 to 1945 because of World War II.

FP Sports April 01, 2020 20:36:08 IST
Coronavirus Outbreak: Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since World War II, announces All England Club

Wimbledon, traditionally the third grand slam in a tennis calendar and the only major held on grass, will not be played in 2020, it was announced on Wednesday by the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club. The tournament had already ruled out playing without spectators.

Wimbledon has been a regular fixture to the sport since 1877. It has only been cancelled from 1915 to 1918 because of World War I and again from 1940 to 1945 because of World War II.

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File image of Wimbledon Centre Court. AP

"... The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic. The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021," said the authorities in a statement.

"With the likelihood that the Government’s measures will continue for many months, it is our view that we must act responsibly to protect the large numbers of people required to prepare The Championships from being at risk – from the training of ball boys and girls to thousands of officials, line judges, stewards, players, suppliers, media and contractors who convene on the AELTC Grounds – and equally to consider that the people, supplies and services legally required to stage The Championships would not be available at any point this summer, thus ruling out postponement," the statement added.

The development comes amid a disrupted calendar due to the coronavirus with both men's and women's tours suspended until 7 June. The tournament, played in London, was scheduled to be held between 29 June and 12 July.

All England Club had released a public statement last week where they expressed the challenge in postponing the slam. "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,” it said.

On Monday, vice-president of the German tennis federation Dirk Hordorff told L'Equipe that the event would be called off. "You could reorganise Roland Garros for September or October, but not Wimbledon, the grass would be too damp," Hordorff said.

"It is completely unrealistic to imagine that with the travel restrictions that we currently have an international tennis tournament where hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world would travel. That is unthinkable."

He was saying in reference to French Tennis Federation's (FFT) decision to postpone the clay court grand slam Roland Garros to 20 September instead of 24 May - a move that came as a surprise to everyone - including tennis' global body and both ATP and WTA Tours.

The controversial switch leaves the Roland Garros starting a week after the US Open finishes, provided the grand slam in Flushing Meadows goes on as planned and maintains its place in the calendar.

Last week Briton Jamie Murray said it would have been difficult for the organisers to postpone Wimbledon. “There’s a lot of other stakeholders, a lot of other tournaments to consider,” said Murray to BBC Scotland's The Nine.

“Even things like daylight for the tournament. Once the tournament gets put back, there’s less and less daylight. When you play at Wimbledon normally, you can play until 10 at night,” he added.

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