The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), organising body of Wimbledon, has eased its rules on mobile phone use during matches at the grand slam tournament, but has maintained it will not show games from the ongoing Fifa World Cup, even if England progresses to the final.
This year’s edition of Wimbledon has had to contend with attention being diverted by the football showpiece being held in Russia.
The AELTC has been steadfast in its stance that it won’t show World Cup games on big screens within the Wimbledon grounds, along with refusing to reschedule Sunday’s men’s singles final, which clashes with the final of the World Cup.
However, it has moved to ease rules of entry to the grounds which state that mobile phones, tablets and other electronic devices “must be switched off in and around the courts of play”.
“Our attitude is that if people aren’t affecting other people’s enjoyment of the tennis, if they have it on silent or are listening on an earphone, then that is fine,” AELTC chief executive Richard Lewis said, according to the UK newspaper The Guardian. “Towards the back of Centre Court there can an issue with the bright screen, but on a bright sunny day that is not an issue.”
Lewis said Wimbledon’s “fantastic” stewards would be able to handle any issues that might arise. When asked about the written rules, he said they applied to “phone calls and talking loudly”.
He added: “That is a completely different issue. For many years we have had people using mobile phones and tablets. We want people to be able to enjoy in this modern era the fact that this is a tennis event but that there is something else very special going on.”
Sunday’s men’s singles final is currently due to start at 2.15pm GMT, with the World Cup final set to kick off at 4pm. Wimbledon previously showed games from the 1996 European Championships, which England hosted, on big screens, but there will be no repeat of this initiative.
Stating that the Euro 96 decision had been a mistake, Lewis said: “I gather it wasn’t very successful, because it did interrupt people’s enjoyment of the tennis.”