This year's edition of the Wimbledon Championships, one of tennis's biggest events, has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the All England Club has announced today.
This year's edition should have been the 134th Championships but because of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak organisers have cancelled the tournament for the first time since the Second World War.
In a statement released this afternoon organisers the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) said: "Uppermost in our mind has been the health and safety of all of those who come together to make Wimbledon happen – the public in the UK and visitors from around the world, our players, guests, members, staff, volunteers, partners, contractors, and local residents – as well as our broader responsibility to society’s efforts to tackle this global challenge to our way of life.
"Since the emergence of the coronavirus outbreak in January, we have followed guidance from the UK Government and public health authorities in relation to our year-round operations, alongside developing an understanding of the likely trajectory of the outbreak in the UK.
"This has enabled analysis of the impact of the Government restrictions on the usual commencement in April of the significant preparations required to stage The Championships, either on the original date of June 29, or at a later date in the summer of 2020.
"These considerations are particularly related to the concerns brought about by mass gatherings and the strain on the medical and emergency services, as well as movement and travel restrictions both within the UK and around the world.
"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.
"Following a series of detailed deliberations on all of the above, it is the Committee of Management’s view that cancellation of The Championships is the best decision in the interests of public health, and that being able to provide certainty by taking this decision now, rather than in several weeks, is important for everyone involved in tennis and The Championships."
It is with great regret that the AELTC has today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic.— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) April 1, 2020
The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021.https://t.co/c0QV2ymGAt
Explaining the decision to cancel Wimbledon 2020, the AELTC's chairman Ian Hewitt said: “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.
"It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars but, 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.
"Our thoughts are with all those who have been and continue to be affected by these unprecedented times.”
So sad to hear @Wimbledon won’t take place this year. Last year’s final will forever be one of the happiest days of my life! But we are going through something bigger than tennis and Wimbledon will be back! And it means I have even longer to look forward to defending my title 🤗 pic.twitter.com/PmppwUuKtD— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) April 1, 2020
Just after the cancellation of the Wimbledon Championships for 2020 the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), Women's Tennis Association (WTA) and International Tennis Federation (ITF) Tours announced the suspension of all events until July 13 - the day after Wimbledon was due to conclude.
ATP events in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Stuttgart, London [Queen’s], Halle, Mallorca and Eastbourne, and WTA events in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Nottingham, Birmingham, Berlin, Eastbourne and Bad Homburg are all affected by the suspension.
The ITF's suspension covers the ITF World Tennis Tour, ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors (including all ITF Junior team competitions), UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour, ITF Beach Tennis World Tour and ITF Seniors Tour through to the same date.
Also affected is the ITF Beach Tennis World Cup due to be played in Moscow in July.
Meanwhile, three Davis Cup regional group events, in Congo, North Macedonia and Turkmenistan, and four Fed Cup events, in Bolivia, Lithuania, Malaysia and Panama, scheduled to be played week commencing June 8, have also been postponed.