Wimbledon 2020 has been cancelled due to Covid-19 pandemic, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (ALETC) said on Wednesday. The premier tennis Grand Slam tournament has been scrapped off the calendar for the 1st time since World War II even as the novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the global sporting schedule.
Wimbledon’s cancellation comes a week after the Tokyo Olympics was postponed to 2021 due to the Covid-19 crisis, which has led to a global health scare. The AELTC had said last week that it was evaluating all scenarios, including the postponement and cancellation of Wimbledon 2020. The tournament will now be held from 28 June to 11 July in 2021.
"It is with great regret that the Main Board of the All England Club (AELTC) and the Committee of Management of The Championships have today decided that 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.
"Uppermost in our mind has been the health and safety of all of those who come together to make Wimbledon happen the public in the UK and visitors from around the world, our players, guests, members, staff, volunteers, partners, contractors, and local residents as well as our broader responsibility to society’s efforts to tackle this global challenge to our way of life.
"Since the emergence of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in January, we have followed guidance from the UK Government and public health authorities in relation to our year-round operations, alongside developing an understanding of the likely trajectory of the outbreak in the UK. This has enabled analysis of the impact of the Government restrictions on the usual commencement in April of the significant preparations required to stage The Championships, either on the original date of 29 June, or at a later date in the summer of 2020," Wimbledon organisers said in a statement.
The French Open, which was scheduled to begin in May, was moved to the last week of September in a unilateral decision made by its organisers that has angered the tennis fraternity. The US Open, which is scheduled to start in the 2nd week of September, said it will take a call on the tournament only after consulting with all the stakeholders and other Grand Slams.
Notably, the ATP and the WTA have suspended the professional tennis tour until June 7 due to the outbreak of the pandemic. Wimbledon was scheduled to begin at the All England Lawn Tennis courts from June 29.
It is unlikely that the grass-court tournaments in the lead-up to Wimbledon will be held as scheduled with the major itself becoming victim to the novel coronavirus.
The Wimbledon organisers had made it clear last week that the grass court major will not go behind closed doors. They also said postponement was a difficult option, considering the nature of the grass that has to be maintained for the Grand Slam.
Tennis legend and 3-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker on Tuesday had pleaded the tournament organisers to wait longer before making a decision.
"I really hope Wimbledon will wait until the end of April for decision. The tourney is first week of July... patience is a virtue, Becker had said.
The cancellation of Wimbledon 2020 means some of the biggest stars, including Roger Federer and Serena Williams, might not be able to play the grass court Grand Slam once more.