LONDON – The Wimbledon tennis championships were cancelled for the first time since World War Two as the coronavirus pandemic wiped another blue-riband sports event off the calendar on Wednesday.
While the decision had looked inevitable for some time, since the virtual shutdown of world sport and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, Wimbledon had been one of the few events not to have been officially cancelled or postponed.
But after emergency talks between the various stakeholders over the last few days, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) announced that it was impossible for the grasscourt Grand Slam, scheduled for June 29 to July 12, to take place.
“It is with great regret that the main board of the All England Club 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 AELTC said in a statement.
“The 134th Championships will instead be staged from June 28 to July 11, 2021.”
The men’s ATP Tour and women’s WTA Tour are already suspended until at least June 7 but it looks extremely unlikely that any professional tennis will be possible throughout the summer as the pandemic worsens in Europe and the U.S.
Britain’s death toll from the virus reached 2 352 on Wednesday, according to NHS figures.
The French Open, originally due to be held from May 24 to June 7 has been postponed and controversially rescheduled by the French tennis federation for September 20 to October 4, shortly after the end of the U.S. Open.
Wimbledon has been held every year since 1946 after a six-year hiatus because the country was at war. (Reuters)