WASHINGTON, March 26, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)
Wimbledon organizers announced Wednesday that the All England Club will decide on the fate of the 2020 Wimbledon Championships next week. While the AELTC says they are considering both cancellation and postponement, their statement “strongly hinted at a cancellation,” writes Simon Briggs, tennis correspondent for the London Daily Telegraph.
One thing is certain: the club already has formally ruled out playing the tournament behind closed doors. So, if Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep get to defend their respective 2019 singles titles this year, it will be done in front of live crowds.
According to Briggs, “Although the AELTC had originally wanted to leave their options open until the end of April – the stage at which they would have to start building stands – the rapid progress of the Covid-19 pandemic has forced them to call an emergency board meeting within days.”
“‘The single most important consideration is one of public health,’” Briggs quotes Richard Lewis, the club’s chief executive as saying. “‘We are working hard to bring certainty to our plans for 2020.’”
In its press statement, the AELTC said that in preparation for next week’s meeting, “we are communicating closely with the LTA, and with the ATP, WTA, ITF and the other Grand Slams. The build for The Championships is due to begin at the end of April.”
New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey wrote on Twitter: “Wimbledon’s organizers say they are considering both cancellation and postponement, acknowledging that postponement because of grass’s characteristics, will be tough to manage.
“Sense is that the former Olympic dates come too soon after Wimbledon’s regular dates to be much help with a postponement. Reduced light and dew on the grass makes it tricky to go into September. Window very tight, probably but not absolutely too tight for postponement.”
If Wimbledon is cancelled for this year, it would be the first time it’s happened since 1945. Wimbledon was last cancelled from 1940-45 for World War II and was not held from 1915-18 due to World War I.
The AELTC is continuing a detailed evaluation of all scenarios for The Championships 2020, including postponement and cancellation, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.https://t.co/BjlPiyuTtf
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) March 25, 2020