Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon 2019. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/MATTHIAS HANGST
Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon 2019. Picture: GETTY IMAGES/MATTHIAS HANGST

London — Next year’s Wimbledon Championships could be held without spectators amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisers of the grass court Grand Slam said on Friday.

The tournament in England was cancelled this year for the first time since World War 2 due to the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 43,000 people in the UK.

It was the only Grand Slam, however, to be cancelled in 2020 as the US Open in New York and the French Open in Paris were held in bio-secure environments after the Australian Open was held in normal circumstances at the beginning of the year.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), organisers of the tournament, said they are broadly planning for three different scenarios — a full capacity Championships, a reduced capacity Championships, and a “behind closed doors” Championships.

“Staging The Championships in 2021 is our number one priority and we are actively engaged in scenario planning to deliver on that priority,” AELTC CEO Sally Bolton said in a statement.

The organisers would have learnt from the other Grand Slams and would also keep a close watch on the Australian Open, which is expected to be held in Melbourne in January.

Wimbledon had an insurance policy in place for the pandemic in 2020 but will not have similar cover next year and another cancellation would have a major financial impact on the sport in UK.

The pandemic, which has killed over a million people worldwide, will force London into a tighter Covid-19 lockdown from midnight on Friday with the death toll in UK the highest in Europe.

The AELTC said former player Jamie Baker has been appointed as head of professional tennis and tournament director for the Wimbledon Championships, which will be held between June 28 to July 11 next year. 

Reuters

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