Wimbledon set to return in 2021 even without fans
Wimbledon is set to go ahead next year even if the Grand Slam tournament has to be staged behind closed doors, organisers announced on Friday.
The grass-court championships were cancelled this year for the first time since World War II because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The tennis season has been badly disrupted by Covid-19 but the US Open went ahead behind closed doors and the French Open took place in front of only 1,000 fans a day after its starting date was moved from May to late September.
The All England Club is planning for several scenarios in 2021 — a full-capacity Wimbledon, reduced numbers of fans or holding the tournament with no spectators present.
“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,” said chief executive Sally Bolton.
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.”
The 134th championships will be staged from June 28 to July 11, 2021.
Wimbledon has been working closely with local communities during the pandemic and will continue to provide 200 hot meals a day to people in need until Christmas.
More than £750,000 ($970,000) has been donated to charities and organisations, while 30,000 of the famous Wimbledon towels that were intended to be used for the 2020 tournament have been given away.
© Agence France-Presse