The good news: there will likely be a Wimbledon Championships this Summer after the 2020 event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bad news: reduced capacity is a near certainty.
The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club was quick to cancel the 2020 Wimbledon tournament–despite the fact that the event wasn’t set to take place until mid-Summer they made the cancellation announcement on April 1, 2020. What might have been something of an overreaction–there’s a good chance they could have contested the 2020 tournament without fans–is likely why they’re taking a more measured approach to the 2021 event which will be the 134th Wimbledon Championships.
In fact, the All England Club cites ‘flexibility’ as the reason they are delaying ticket sales until later in the Summer:
We are continuing to work closely with the UK Government, public health authorities and the rest of sport with the ambition of welcoming spectators safely to sports events this summer. Based on these conversations, and taking on board the guidance provided by the Sports Ground Safety Authority, as well as transport and food and drink guidance, at this point in time, the most likely outcome for this year’s Championships, as an outdoor venue, is a reduced number of spectators within the Grounds. However, we are taking every step to remain as flexible as possible to ensure we are able to react to changing circumstances that may allow an increase or require a decrease in attendance, both ahead of and during the Wimbledon Fortnight.
The tournament is scheduled to take place June 28-July 11 and the most likely scenario is the start of online ticket sales will take place sometime in June. In a concession to social distancing guidelines there will not be a ticket resale queue this year:
In addition, given the likelihood of continued social distancing requirements and with consideration for the health and safety of all the public, there will not be a Queue or Ticket Resale in operation for this year’s Championships. Both the Queue and Ticket Resale remain much-loved and important Wimbledon traditions, and we look forward to their return in 2022. In the absence of the Queue, the Wimbledon Public Ballot and the LTA Ballot this year, tickets for the public to attend The Championships 2021 will be made available online and we anticipate this will begin in June.
Players will also experienced a more controlled environment including the proviso that they stay in ‘official hotels’:
In line with UK Government and public health guidance, we are also putting in place a series of infection control measures. One of the priority measures is to create a minimised risk environment for the players. As such, based on current guidance, there will be official hotels for all players, their support teams, and key groups such as officials, which will be a mandatory requirement for entry into and participation in this year’s Championships. We will also not be staging the Invitation Doubles events in 2021, and there will be no Last 8 Club operation on site. At this point in time, we have not been advised that these measures need to include the restriction of spectator movement around the Grounds.
Ian Hewitt, All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Chairman had these comments:
“These remain challenging and uncertain times, and our thoughts continue to be with all those affected by the pandemic. Although the promise of a return to a more normal existence is on the horizon, we are not there yet. As such, we have taken some key decisions in order to provide us with some certainty in our planning, and yet also to retain flexibility where we need it the most.”
“We remain committed to delivering on our aspiration of staging the best Championships possible. In line with the UK Government’s Roadmap, we are cautiously optimistic that The Championships will play an exciting role as the country begins to embrace a return towards normality. We remain humbled and heartened by the passion for Wimbledon shown by our fans around the world, and we so look forward to seeing the world’s best tennis players setting foot on our courts once again.”
One positive sign: England has been among the top countries in the world at distributing and administering coronavirus vaccines. 45.2% of the UK population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, second highest in the world.