Wimbledon WILL go ahead next year with or without fans and optimistic tournament chiefs are planning for FULL CAPACITY despite coronavirus still keeping crowds away
- Wimbledon will take place next year even if it is to be staged behind closed doors
- The Championships were cancelled this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic
- In response, plans have been drawn up to make sure the tournament goes ahead
Wimbledon is set to go ahead next year even if the tournament has to be staged behind closed doors.
The Championships was cancelled this summer for the first time since World War II because of the coronavirus pandemic and the All England Club is planning for several scenarios for 2021.
Chief executive Sally Bolton said: ‘Staging the Championships in 2021 is our number one priority and we are actively engaged in scenario planning in order to deliver on that priority.’
Wimbledon will take place next year even if fans are not allowed to return to SW19
This year’s cancellation saw Novak Djokovic denied the chance to defend his singles title
The AELTC is developing plans for a full-capacity tournament – which appears highly unlikely – a reduced-capacity event as well as one held with no fans.
Wimbledon will have been closely watching the recent US Open, played behind closed doors, and the French Open, where 1,000 fans a day were eventually admitted, down from a hoped-for 11,500.
Both tournaments were deemed overall successes, with very few positive Covid-19 cases and broad player support.
Another major factor for Wimbledon is the AELTC will now be unable to secure pandemic insurance, which was prudently put in place a number of years ago and ensured losses from this year’s cancelled tournament were minimised.
Former Great Britain Davis Cup player Jamie Baker, meanwhile, has been appointed head of professional tennis and tournament director and will take on the role of liaising with the player community, ATP, WTA and International Tennis Federation over Wimbledon’s plans.
The scheduled start of the Wimbledon championships is for June 28 next year
Wimbledon’s statement read: ‘Our overriding priority will continue to be the health and safety of all of our stakeholders, in particular our guests, our staff, and our competitors.
‘We are working closely with the relevant government and public health authorities, alongside the rest of the sports industry, to understand the varying challenges and opportunities presented by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.’
Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray supports the decision to hold the tournament next year, following the success of other majors like the French Open and Australian Open.
‘I would like to see Wimbledon go ahead regardless of whether there are fans or not,’ Murray said, after his French Open first-round defeat by Stan Wawrinka.
‘But we’ll see what they decide. I think the events that have gone on so far, the ones I’ve been involved in, have been pretty successful.
But two-times winner Andy Murray has recently called for the championships to take place
‘I guess it would be up to the fans. If the fans are enjoying watching it and they are getting good TV ratings, then that would suggest people would still like to see tennis and watch the major events.
‘For a player, it is not the same without fans, but I’d still way rather be playing the event than not, that’s for sure.’
Wimbledon has been working closely with the club’s local communities during the pandemic and will continue to provide 200 hot meals a day to people in need.
More than £750,000 has been donated to local and national charities and organisations while 30,000 of the famous Wimbledon towels that were intended to be used for the 2020 tournament have been donated towards other causes, including refugee projects and support for the homeless.