Wimbledon, tennis’ oldest and most prestigious tournament, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club was set to hold the Grand Slam from June 29 to July 12, but escalating virus cases in the U.K. and around the world has forced its cancellation. This marks the first time in 75 years the tournament will not be held, having last been cancelled during 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,” stated Ian Hewitt, chairman of the All England Club. “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.”
News of the tournament’s likely cancellation surfaced earlier this week from German tennis official Dirk Hordorff. The vice president of the German Tennis Federation, Hordorff told Sky Sports Germany that current circumstances make it nearly impossible for organizers to hold the iconic tournament.
“The necessary decisions have already been made there and Wimbledon will decide to cancel,” Hordorff said. “There is no doubt about it. This is necessary in the current situation. It is completely unrealistic to imagine that with the travel restrictions that we currently have an international tennis tournament where hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world would travel. That is unthinkable.”
Wimbledon’s cancellation follows the abrupt postponement of next month’s French Open, which occurred without prior notification to the ATP or WTA tours. Players and governing bodies were left stunned at the move, which now sees the Paris-based Grand Slam tournament scheduled to start only a week after the conclusion of the U.S. Open. However, the unprecedented postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics could allow the tennis calendar to shift tournament schedules around, creating more flexibility.