The All England Club has canceled the Wimbledon tennis championships as coronavirus continues to rip through the global sporting calendar.
The tournament was due to begin on June 29 and run for two weeks, but the south London event has been axed for the first time since World War II. It follows the postponement of the French Open earlier this month.
In a statement, the All England Club said: “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.”
“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.”
Wimbledon is one of tennis’ four Grand Slam events along with the Australian (which was held in January), French and U.S. opens. The French Tennis Federation on March 14 moved the French Open dates from mid-May to September 20-October 4. The U.S. Open is still scheduled to begin August 31, but on Tuesday construction began on a 350-bed hospital facility at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens.
The Wimbledon decision is yet another blow for TV rights holders following the cancellation of other major sporting events, including the Tokyo Olympics this summer and Premier League football. The BBC is home to Wimbledon in the UK, while ESPN holds the rights in the U.S. under a 12-year deal with the All England Club.
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