LONDON — No green shoots here: Wimbledon has been struck off the spring 2020 calendar due to concerns about the coronavirus.
On Wednesday the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which runs England’s most famous tennis tournament and the only Grand Slam event played on grass courts, said The Championships 2020 have been canceled due to “public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic.”
It said the 134th Championships will instead be staged from June 28 to July 11, 2021. The club’s decision to skip England’s most famous tournament follows the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.
“Since the emergence of the COVID-19 outbreak in January, we have followed guidance from the U.K. 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 U.K.,” the club said Wednesday.
“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 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.”
This year would have been Ralph Lauren’s 15th as the official outfitter of The Championships, Wimbledon. The label dresses the umpires and ball boys and girls in preppy whites, purple and green stripes, and also offers a Wimbledon-inspired capsule collection which it sells to the public.
Following the cancellation, Ralph Lauren said: “The health and wellbeing of our teams, partners and consumers around the world is what matters most right now. We look forward to our continued partnership with the time-honored All England Club, and being a part of next year’s Championships.”
The club said it would be working with the players and the tennis community “in Britain and around the world — and we are developing plans to support those groups, working in partnership with the LTA and the other leadership bodies in global tennis. This also applies to our loyal staff, to whom we take our responsibility very seriously.”
Ian Hewitt, chairman of the AELTC, said the decision was not taken lightly, and noted that the staging of The Championships “has only been interrupted previously by two 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.”
He said the club planned to concentrate instead on how it 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.”
The club said it plans to contribute to the emergency response services and support those affected by the coronavirus crisis. It has already begun distributing medical equipment and offered the use of its facilities to the National Health Service and to the London Resilience Partnership, the collection of agencies in London fighting the battle against COVID-19.
It is also helping with food distribution, while the Wimbledon Foundation charity is offering funding support to local communities through its partnership with the London Community Foundation, and more broadly for the London and UK population through our partnership with the British Red Cross, the Foundation’s emergency response charity.