The All England Club have cancelled this year’s Wimbledon due to the coronavirus pandemic following an emergency board meeting on Wednesday.
Wimbledon had hoped to hold off making a final decision for a few more weeks but chief executive Richard Lewis announced that had been brought forward to an emergency board meeting at which it was decided to cancel rather than postpone the two-week grass-court tournament.
Main-draw play at Wimbledon was due to start on June 29 and preparations for the tournament are supposed to begin in late April, requiring significant numbers of people on site.
But the conditions required to play on grass means fans will have to make do for a year without Wimbledon for the first time since 1945.
Specific insurance to cover for a disease pandemic such as the coronavirus means Wimbledon is in a good situation financially, and the Lawn Tennis Association would also still receive the usual surplus – which exceeded £40m in 2018 – that makes up a huge chunk of its funding.
The preceding grass-court tournaments in Nottingham, Birmingham, Queen’s Club and Eastbourne have also been cancelled.
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club said in a statement: “It is with great regret that the AELTC has today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic.
“The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021.”
Chairman Ian Hewitt, said: “This is a decision that we have not taken lightly, and we have done so with the highest regard for public health and the wellbeing of all those who come together to make Wimbledon happen.
“We believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon’s resources to help those in our local communities and beyond.”
Chief executive Richard Lewis, added: “I would like to thank all those who love Wimbledon for their understanding of these unique and unquestionably challenging circumstances. It is your passion for The Championships that has shaped our event over the years, and will continue to do so, and we look forward to preparing a fantastic Championships for 2021.”