The coronavirus outbreak has halted sporting events all around the world. On Wednesday, Wimbledon was officially canceled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It marks the first time since 1945 — in the midst of World War II — that the Grand Slam tournament has been canceled. Wimbledon was scheduled to begin on June 29 and last until July 12.
The All England Club, which organizes the tournament, held an emergency meeting on Wednesday where it made the decision to cancel the event official.
“It is with great regret that the Main Board of the All England Club (AELTC) and the Committee of Management of The Championships have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be canceled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic,” Wimbledon wrote in a statement on their website. “Following a series of detailed deliberations on all of the above, it is the Committee of Management’s view that cancellation of The Championships is the best decision in the interests of public health and that being able to provide certainty by taking this decision now, rather than in several weeks, is important for everyone involved in tennis and The Championships.”
The All England Club gave thought to possibly postponing the tournament to later this summer, but ultimately followed in the footsteps of what England’s government is saying: public gatherings are not worth the risk of spreading COVID-19.
“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 AELTC 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,” Wimbledon said.
Wimbledon added in the statement that they have donated medical equipment to first responders in London and offered the use of their facilities to those in charge of the battle against COVID-19. Earlier this week, the US Open tennis complex in New York was turned into a temporary hospital.
This is far from the first major sporting event to be affected by the coronavirus outbreak this year. Even in tennis, the French Open was slated to be held in late May but was postponed until September. As of right now, the US Open, which takes place in August, is still scheduled to take place, but that could change in the coming months.
Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep won at Wimbledon in 2019.