London, 1 April 2020 (dpa/MIA) – The 2020 Wimbledon tennis championships have been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the All England Club announced on Wednesday.
It is the first time the London championships, due to take place between June 29 and July 12, have been called off since World War II.
“This is a decision that we have not taken lightly, and we have done so with the highest regard for public health and the wellbeing of all those who come together to make Wimbledon happen,” said All England Club (AELTC) chairman Ian Hewitt.
“Following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon’s resources to help those in our local communities and beyond.”
The All England Club added in its statement that it has already donated medical equipment and offered its facilities to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) to try to help ease the strain on their workforces.
Wimbledon’s cancellation means the entire grass court season has been abandoned with no tennis to be played until at least July 13.
The historic grass grand slam joins a list of major event casualties including Euro 2020 and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, which have all now moved to 2021.
AELTC chief executive Richard Lewis said: “We strongly believe it is not only in the best interests of society at this time but also provides certainty to our colleagues in international tennis given the impact on the grass court events in the UK and in Europe and the broader tennis calendar.”
The French Open, usually held at the end of May and start of June, was postponed until a new slot of September 20-October 4 and there has also been discussion about pushing back the US Open from its start date in late August.
There was no real option to reschedule Wimbledon this year though. Next year’s championships will take place between June 28 and July 11.
The British government strictly advises against large mass gatherings to try to slow the growth of coronavirus cases, so the decision to cancel was inevitable.
Media reports said that the All England Club has taken up an insurance policy to compensate all ticket holders, broadcasters and sponsors in a package worth up to 200 million pounds (247.8 million dollars).
Wimbledon great Roger Federer responded to news of the cancellation with a tweet which simply read: “Devastated.”