Wim­ble­don plans re­turn in 2021, with or without fans

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS -

‘Stag­ing The Cham­pi­onships in 2021 is our num­ber one pri­or­ity and we are ac­tively en­gaged in sce­nario plan­ning in or­der to de­liver on that pri­or­ity.’

THE WIM­BLE­DON tennis tour­na­ment is plan­ning its come­back in 2021.

Wim­ble­don was the only Grand Slam tour­na­ment can­celled this year be­cause of the COVID-19 pan­demic, but the All Eng­land Club an­nounced plans yes­ter­day for its re­turn next year.

“Stag­ing The Cham­pi­onships in 2021 is our num­ber one pri­or­ity and we are ac­tively en­gaged in sce­nario plan­ning in or­der to de­liver on that pri­or­ity,” All Eng­land Club chief ex­ec­u­tive Sally Bolton said.

The tour­na­ment, can­celled this year for the first time since 1945, is sched­uled to run next year from June 28 to July 11. It could be held at full ca­pac­ity, re­duced ca­pac­ity or without fans, the club said.

All of the op­tions are de­pen­dent on the sta­tus of govern­ment and pub­lic health guide­lines, the club said.

The US Open and French Open were held this year, but with strict pro­to­cols to re­duce the pos­si­bil­ity of spread­ing the virus. No fans were al­lowed at Flush­ing Mead­ows, while Roland Gar­ros was lim­ited to 1,000 fans per day.

“Our over­rid­ing pri­or­ity will con­tinue to be the health and safety of all of our stake­hold­ers, in par­tic­u­lar our guests, our staff, and our com­peti­tors,” the All Eng­land Club said. “We are work­ing closely with the rel­e­vant govern­ment and pub­lic health au­thor­i­ties, along­side the rest of the sports in­dus­try, to un­der­stand the vary­ing chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties pre­sented by the on­go­ing coro­n­avirus pan­demic.”

The Aus­tralian Open was held this year be­fore the coro­n­avirus spread enough to be of­fi­cially de­clared a pan­demic, but the 2021 tour­na­ment could be af­fected. Next year’s tour­na­ment at Mel­bourne Park is sched­uled to run from Jan­uary 18 to 31.

Aus­tralian Open chief ex­ec­u­tive Craig Ti­ley has said he wants in­ter­na­tional tennis play­ers ar­riv­ing for the tour­na­ment to be ex­empt from the 14-day ho­tel quar­an­tines that are manda­tory for in­bound trav­ellers.

FILE

Switzer­land’s Roger Fed­erer re­turns the ball to Spain’s Rafael Nadal dur­ing a men’s sin­gles semi­fi­nal match on day eleven of the Wim­ble­don Tennis Cham­pi­onships in Lon­don, Eng­land on Fri­day, July 12, 2019.

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