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By Richard Pagliaro | Monday March 30, 2020

 
Wimbledon

Wimbledon has decided to cancel the 2020 tournament and will announce it this week, a German Tennis Federation official reports..

The coronavirus will cut down Wimbledon this week.

The grass-court Grand Slam will be officially canceled this week due to the coronavirus crisis, German Tennis Federation vice president Dirk Hordorff told Sky Sport Germany.

More: Quarantine Kings and Queens

Organizers have already decided to cancel Wimbledon—“no doubt about it”—and will make the formal announcement in days, Hordorff said in comments published by German Tennis Magazine.

“Wimbledon has stated that they will have a board meeting next Wednesday and will make the final decision there,” Hordorff said. “I myself am also involved in the bodies of the ATP and WTA.

Tennis Express

“The necessary decisions have already been made there and Wimbledon will decide to cancel the following Wednesday. There is no doubt about it.”

In the aftermath of the Tokyo Summer Olympics postponement to 2021, the AELTC announced it would convene an emergency meeting this week to discuss postponing or cancelling Wimbledon.

“The AELTC can confirm that it is continuing a detailed evaluation of all scenarios for The Championships 2020, including postponement and cancellation, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak,” Wimbledon said in a statement. “The AELTC has been contingency planning since January, working closely with the UK government 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.”

If Hordorff is right and Wimbledon cancels it will mark the first time in 75 years the grass-court Grand slam is not staged in a season. Wimbledon was not played from 1915 to 1918 during World War I. World War II forced the tournament’s cancelation from 1940 to 1945 when the nation withstood heavy Nazi bombing.

The grass-court Grand Slam reportedly ruled out staging the tournament without fans.

“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,” Wimbledon Chief Executive Richard Lewis said in a statement. “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 AELTC Main Board for next week, at which a decision will be made.”

Earlier this month, Roland Garros announced it will reschedule from its standard May start date to a September 20th opening day—one week after the US Open ends.

There is growing speculation the US Open, which says it is “exploring all options” could also move its scheduled August start time.

Hordorff says given the current COVID-19 pandemic and the travel bans in place, Wimbledon has no choice but to pull the plug.

“This is necessary in the current situation,” Hordorff said. “It is completely unrealistic to imagine that with the travel restrictions we currently have, an international tennis tournament could take place where hundreds of thousands from all over the world would travel. That is unthinkable.”

If you’re wondering why Wimbledon doesn’t reschedule until later in the summer—possibly even to the July date previously occupied by the Olympics—Hordorff says it’s not possible because of local laws and the grass-court surface itself.

“Wimbledon has its own laws due to the lawn and the special lighting conditions,” Hordorff said. “Wimbledon in the period from September to October, when nobody knows whether you can play, would be unthinkable due to the lawn situation.”

One key reason why Wimbledon can afford to cancel while Roland Garros stunned the tennis world unilaterally rescheduling is economics. The grass-court Grand Slam had the foresight to insure against the pandemic, said Hordorff.

“Wimbledon was probably—as the only Grand Slam tournament—predictive enough many years ago to also insure itself against a worldwide pandemic so that the financial damage there should be minimized,” Hordorff said. “Of course, Wimbledon also has enough reserves to last for several years.”

 

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