Tennis

Wimbledon could be next to be culled

This year's Wimbledon Championships have so far survived the cull of the world's most prestigious sporting events due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it seems only a matter of time before they are postponed or cancelled.

With London in its first week of lockdown, All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) officials are weighing up their limited options.

The build-up for the June 29-July 12 championships is supposed to start in little over a month, but it seems increasingly likely Wimbledon will be forced to miss a year for the first time since 1945.

"Based on the advice we have received from the public health authorities, the very short window available to us to stage The Championships due to the nature of our surface suggests that postponement is not without significant risk and difficulty," said the club, adding that playing behind closed doors was not an option.

The Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam, was completed before the coronavirus crisis exploded to virtually shut down world sport, including the men's ATP Tour and women's WTA Tour.

The French Open last week made the decision to move the claycourt tournament to Sept 20-Oct 4 from its May start.

While the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday potentially opened a two-week slot in the calendar in July/August, it would appear unlikely Wimbledon would use it.

Switching to a later time in the year is even less likely as Wimbledon has only two covered courts and elite outdoor grasscourt tennis is not feasible past late summer. - REUTERS

Tennis