Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since 1945

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LONDON, July 15, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Roger Federer of Switzerland competes during the men's singles final match between Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Roger Federer of Switzerland at the 2019 Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Britain, July 14, 2019. (Xinhua/Han Yan/IANS)

London:  The 2020 edition of the Wimbledon Championships has been officially cancelled, organisers All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) announced on Wednesday. The AELTC said that instead, the Wimbledon will now be held from June 28 to July 11, 2021.

It marks the first time since 1945 — during the Second World War — that the Championships won’t take place in a tennis season and the first time it has been cancelled in the Open era.

“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 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021,” the AELTC said in its statement.

It also said that it has taken into account the impact of the cancellation on “those who rely on The Championships -– including the players and the tennis community in Britain and around the world,” and are developing plans to support those groups. “This also applies to our loyal staff, to whom we take our responsibility very seriously,” said the AELTC.

Earlier, it was announced by the French Tennis Federation that the French Open will be held from September 20 to October 4. However, that remains uncertain with a number of players pointing out the difficulty of playing a clay court Grand Slam in the middle of the hard court season and because of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic showing no signs of stemming in most parts of the world.

The Wimbledon thus joins a long list of major sports events that have been cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic which includes the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which will now be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021. The pandemic has claimed nearly 45,000 lives in the world so far and the UK has reported almost 30,000 cases as on April 1.