Wimbledon cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic

A sign outside one of the main gates to Wimbledon. (AP pic)

LONDON: Wimbledon chiefs on Wednesday cancelled the Grand Slam tournament for the first time since World War II as the coronavirus wreaks further havoc on the global sporting calendar.

“It is with great regret that the main board of the All England Club (AELTC) and the committee of management of the Championships have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic,” the organisers said in a statement.

The cancellation of the only grasscourt Grand Slam tournament leaves the tennis season in disarray.

All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said the decision had not been taken lightly.

“It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by world wars but, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships.”

The decision also prompted the ATP and WTA to cancel the grasscourt swing in the build-up to Wimbledon meaning the tennis season will not now recommence until July 13 at the earliest.