Wimbledon to hold emergency board meeting next week amid coronavirus crisis

An emergency board meeting will take place next week with Wimbledon chiefs weighing up all options including cancelling or postponing The Championships.

There has been increasing pressure on a decision to be made by the All England Club (AELTC) after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was postponed by a year.

It’s understood to be unlikely that The Championships would move into the slot the Olympics previously occupied. It’s viewed as too close to the scheduled June 29 start date to make enough of a difference in terms of normal life resuming or crowd and travel restrictions being lifted.

However, every option will be assessed next week – the club has publicly announced – including cancellation of the grass-court Grand Slam.

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‘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,’ a statement read.

‘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.

‘An emergency meeting of the AELTC Main Board is scheduled for next week, and in preparation we are communicating closely with the LTA, and with the ATP, WTA, ITF and the other Grand Slams. The build for The Championships is due to begin at the end of April.

‘At this time, based on the advice we have received from the public health authorities, the very short window available to us to stage The Championships due to the nature of our surface suggests that postponement is not without significant risk and difficulty. Playing behind closed doors has been formally ruled out.

‘Following the government’s advice, the AELTC’s sites at the All England Club, Wimbledon Park Golf Club and Raynes Park are currently closed with physical operations reduced to the practical minimum to maintain the grass courts and the security of the sites.

‘The AELTC, through our charity the Wimbledon Foundation, is offering support within our local communities and more broadly for the London and UK population through our partnerships with the British Red Cross and City Harvest.’

Wimbledon chief executive Richard Lewis added: ‘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.

‘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.’

The tennis season is currently suspended until June 8, with the British grass-court summer in danger of being cancelled.

The French Open – one of the other four Grand Slam events – has already been forced to find a new date, although the French Tennis Federation’s decision to relocate the tournament at the end of September – without consulting other governing bodies in the sport – was not well received.

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