As concerns over the coronavirus outbreak continue to grow, Wimbledon organizers would rather cancel the tournament instead of stage the tournament without spectators, according to reports.
The coronavirus outbreak has been ripping apart the sporting calendar, with the ATP announcing on Thursday that it is suspending all tournaments on the ATP and ATP Challenger tours for six weeks. The WTA is expected to follow suit with a similar announcement.
The six-week ban will end on 27 April, with Wimbledon set to begin just over two months later on 29 June. Hence, the All England Club is not under immediate pressure to make a decision on the grass-court Slam.
As at the time of writing, there have been 596 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in the United Kingdom.
The French Open, which is scheduled to hold from 24 May – 7 June, is under more severe threat, with the confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country closing in on 2000. Roland Garros organizers have said that there are no plans to postpone the second major of the year, but they are considering the introduction of precautionary and preventive measures including face masks, hand gels and the cancellation of tickets for holders from affected areas.
Representatives of major sports’ governing bodies in the UK met with broadcasters earlier in the week to discuss any potential response to the virus outbreak in the country.
While some bodies like football and racing are determined to keep their events running for as long as possible, even if it means keeping out spectators, Wimbledon is believed to have a differing opinion, with the All England Club preferring to completely cancel the iconic tournament. The members of the club are said to be against holding the two-week meet without the social aspect, while organizers are also keen to preserve the Championship’s image.
Wimbledon is also under no financial pressure to go ahead with the event, and unlike some other bodies like the FA, they have insurance provisions that will cover for any potential cancellation.
A final decision on the tournament could ultimately rest on the UK government, who have been deliberating over a response to the coronavirus pandemic. British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said on Thursday that the government is considering banning all sporting activities, but that will not happen immediately.
Wimbledon is live from the All England Club from 29 June – 12 July.