The All England Club will decide at an emergency meeting next week whether it is advisable or even feasible to hold this year Wimbledon tournament, which starts on June 29, but the weather is bad. AELTC chief executive Richard Lewis said on Wednesday night that the senior board is "working hard to bring security to our plans", after much recent speculation.
Lewis, who acknowledges that the postponement would be difficult, said the club would consult with the game's main stakeholders – LTA, ATP, WTA, ITF and the other three Grand Slams. He added: "The most important consideration is public health, and we are determined to act responsibly through the decisions we make."
Wimbledon, which is dangerously close to the prime minister's best prediction to eliminate the coronavirus in 12 weeks, abandoned plans to leave the decision by the end of April.
"With so much uncertainty, changing large, long-term contracts and setting new mutually acceptable dates is difficult and complicated, as can be seen from what has been happening with the Olympics," said a member with long experience in negotiating international sports deals. on TV on Wednesday. "For that reason, I would say that the chances of Wimbledon advancing in June are reduced to zero. You go with him now or cancel.
He said the same strategic thinking underpinned this week's decision by the Japanese government and the IOC. postpone the Tokyo Olympics. They originally announced that they would decide within four weeks; finally, the call was forced on them within 24 hours. The new date for the Games, the source said, would be determined by an international sports calendar that is set – except, of course, when interrupted by something as unexpected and life-threatening as a global health crisis.
"It's a matter of finding a window," he said, "and there aren't many for big sporting events. American TV, to a large extent, determines when many of those events can occur. It's not just about tennis programming. There is an NFL , college sports, baseball, golf and, to a lesser extent, [ice] hockey, football and tennis. "
In this context, and the rapid expansion of Covid-19 – in response to which Roger Federer donated one million Swiss francs to vulnerable families in Switzerland – there seems to be a waning belief within the All England Club that Wimbledon will escape the postponement or even cancellation, as has been the case with virtually all other sports.
Sources say it is highly unlikely that Wimbledon will seek to fill the gap created by the postponement of the Olympic Games. The thought is that it is safer – and more convenient – to follow the existing arrangements, albeit dangerous in terms of planning, than to disrupt a system that has existed for years.
Time is not on their side, given the scale of the operation. It takes two months for the site to be ready for the championships, so realistically, it is necessary to make a decision by the end of April or the beginning of May, at the latest. The chances of a return to normality in this period do not look promising. It may be tempting for AELTC to shift its efforts towards expanding on the road from the main terrain newly acquired Wimbledon Park Golf Club.
First-time visitors to Wimbledon will know how close their contractors should be to setting up everything from corporate tents to the many stores scattered across the grounds, as well as parking and security provisions. Wimbledon is actually a small town that comes to life two weeks a year.
So while the AELTC is officially still monitoring the situation, there is recognition that the sports scene remains too volatile – in the UK and around the world – for an event as big as Wimbledon to commit to moving forward definitively.
The difficulties in deepening Wimbledon in tennis programming became obvious almost two weeks ago, when the French Tennis Federation (FFT) decided unilaterally reposition your championships away from the high point of the virus spread in May to the supposedly safer waters of September. As Covid-19 moved from east to west through France this week towards Paris, the FFT appears to have been justified in judging that it had no chance of Roland Garros opening its doors to the public on May 24.
The French move caused outrage among stakeholders in the game, especially the United States Tennis Association, whose championships end a week before the new proposed dates for the French Open, and the Laver Cup, whose tournament in Boston clashes directly with Roland Garros' changed agenda. . It became obvious a week ago – when the ATP and WTA, which run the rest of the game for men and women, prolonged suspension of all tournaments from late April to 7 June – that time was running out for the second and third grand slams of the season.
While some AELTC members see the point in making a call to Wimbledon as soon as possible, others remember to follow the government's lead. Among other considerations, this aims to protect your insurance claims, since you can argue that the decision was made by your hands.
However, if, as Boris Johnson says, it will take at least three months for the coronavirus to start to disappear visibly, the chances of Wimbledon moving forward in June are certainly "reduced to zero".