The All England Club (AELTC) has maintained that it is still in a “very good position” despite the cancellation of the 2020 Wimbledon Championships, but has conceded that the insurance policy it has in place will not be repeatable moving forward.
This year’s edition of the tennis grand slam was due to commence today (Monday) but was cancelled for the first time since World War Two back in April after organisers conceded that the challenges presented by COVID-19 were insurmountable.
The 134th edition of Wimbledon will instead be staged from June 28 to July 11, 2021. Commenting on AELTC’s positioning following the cancellation, outgoing chief executive Richard Lewis said: “If you have to cancel, it’s great to have insurance. We’re still in a very good position, which is a slightly strange thing to say when you’ve just cancelled the championships.
“But we’re financially very stable. In terms of the impact on ourselves as an organisation and business, and the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) and therefore British tennis, it’s going to be pretty well protected.”
Lewis told The Guardian newspaper that AELTC’s finance department is currently working through its claim with more than 10 insurance companies. Regarding the numbers involved, he said: “I have seen speculative figures and I don’t recognise any of them.
“It is too soon – even if there wasn’t commercial confidentiality – to give you a figure. It’s looked at line by line: every cost, expenditure, bit of income, revenue, whether it has to be repaid, all that sort of thing. It is a very time-consuming and laborious process. We have a good relationship with the brokers. It’s going well, but the final outcome won’t be known for several months.”
AELTC ensured it was one of the few sports organisations protected against the specific financial threat posed by a global pandemic such as COVID-19. However, looking forward Lewis said: “When I started in 2012, there were some signs that things were not insurable, because of communicable diseases that had taken place, like Sars and swine flu.
“In the immediate aftermath, you can’t get insurance but, fairly soon after that, you can, the market returns. So there won’t be insurance next year, but in the medium-term, just because we’ve made one claim, it won’t affect us in the long-term.”
The cancellation of Wimbledon comes with this year’s remaining slams, the US Open and French Open, still scheduled to take place. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) this month outlined a comprehensive health and safety plan as it confirmed that the 2020 US Open will go ahead behind closed doors as part of a double bill of tournaments.
The 2020 US Open is set to be played at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, on its originally scheduled dates of August 31 to September 13. Meanwhile, the French Tennis Federation (FFT) confirmed that this year’s French Open will now take place over three weeks, from September 21 to October 11, adding that it is hoping to have fans in attendance at Roland Garros.
Sally Bolton is due to succeed Lewis as AELTC chief executive at the end of July. She said it is AELTC’s “absolute wish” that next year’s Wimbledon “looks like a championship we would all recognise.”
She added: “We’ve got the US Open and Roland Garros being staged later this year and we will be looking closely at what they do, working with the constraints they find themselves under and learning what we can.”
Image: AELTC/Bob Martin