The All England Club (AELTC) has said it is focusing on a “reduced capacity” 2021 Wimbledon Championships, as fellow tennis grand slam the Australian Open prepares to get underway with fans in attendance.
Last year’s edition of Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since World War Two 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, with organisers now providing their latest thinking for the tournament.
The AELTC previously announced that Wimbledon 2021 would go ahead with, or without, fans and it has now stated it is considering three options – full capacity, reduced capacity or no fans.
“The majority of our planning focus is currently centred on the option of a reduced capacity Championships and how that would affect each stakeholder group, but we are not yet in a position to rule out any of the other scenarios,” the Club said in a statement reported by the Associated Press news agency.
AELTC continued: “While the rollout of the vaccination program in the UK is a very heartening development, it naturally remains too soon to know how this will impact public attendance at major events in the UK.”
In June, AELTC maintained that it was still in a “very good position” despite the cancellation of the 2020 Championships, but conceded that the insurance policy it has in place will not be repeatable moving forward.
With five months to go until this year’s event, AELTC said “we are continuing to develop our detailed scenario planning” and are working with public heath authorities to stay informed about developments. The Club added: “Our approach will be to remain as agile as possible and leave enough flexibility in our planning to adapt as required to the prevailing conditions in the summer.”
Up to 30,000 fans per day will be allowed to attend this year’s edition of the Australian Open, which gets underway on Monday. The figure is around half of the usual attendance, with the cap having been imposed due to ongoing restrictions relating to COVID-19. Martin Pakula, Sports Minister for the State of Victoria, confirmed the news on Saturday.
The 30,000 cap will be reduced to 25,000 for the final five days of the tournament, when fewer matches are taking place. The tournament will be held in Melbourne from February 8-21.