Wimbledone in 2020?
Corona virus has decimated sporting fixtures throughout the world. This terrible virus has brought life as we know it to its knees. Professional to amateur, athletics to surfing, rugby union to formula one. The Six Nations has been postponed, the Premier League on hold, the Olympics in Japan have been put back 12 months. One big summer event has yet to be cancelled or postponed and that is Wimbledon.
The ATP and WTA have made statements that the tennis tours are on hold until early June and the start of the grass court season. The American hard court season in Spring and the entire clay court season have been cancelled. The decision to restart in June would appear at this moment to be an optimistic prediction. The All England Club have indicated they will make a statement regarding this year’s event soon.
All England Club Chiefs have already ruled out hosting the event behind closed doors. In a statement they announced
“We are working hard to bring certainty to our plans for 2020 and have convened an emergency meeting of the AELTC main board for next week, at which a decision will be made.”
Given that everything else in the sporting calendar seems to taken the decision to cancel you wonder just why Wimbledon hasn’t done so already. It will be a massive decision but and few could have predicted it months ago. The tennis world seems to have been a little bit pissed off with the decision of the French tennis association to move their blue riband event to the end of September one week after the US Open final and smack in the middle of the Asian Swing.
Olympic Sized hole in Summer Schedule
The tennis tours and grand slam have a set schedule and generally have a polite working arrangement. Each tour and tournament have their own agenda and sponsors to keep happy. Tournaments have their own weeks year in year out and these generally accommodate the ITF and where they schedule the grand slams. The dates of these events change only slightly year on year.
Wimbledon always occupied the end of June start of July spot.The grass courts are in their prime at that time. At the London Olympics 2012 tennis took place at the end of July and beginning of August and despite hosting the Wimbledon Championships three weeks prior courts were in great shape. The Davis Cup has also been held in September.
The Olympic Games have now left a space in the schedule and perhaps Wimbledon would consider moving back to that spot. August is a full month with two WTA Premier/ATP Masters events and of course the US Open which is also has a massive question mark over it. Even if the US Open were to be cancelled and early September were to free hosting a grass court grand slam would pose massive problems. Firstly daylight in early September is approx 13 hours per day and when kids go back to school. Play would have to begin earlier than the 1130am start.
As disappointing as it will be to have no Wimbledon in 2020 there do not seem like many alternatives for a viable tournament. A post Corona virus society may not allow packed stadia like we see at tennis tournaments. When life finally returns to normal, post Covid 19 , sport will be a welcome boost. For the moment the focus must be on battling this terrible disease.