The summer’s Wimbledon is likely to go ahead with reduced capacity and its famous queue will not operate in 2021, the All England Club has confirmed.
The Grand Slam is set to start on 28 June, seven days after Covid restrictions are due to end in England. Organisers are working on the basis that a reduced number of fans will be allowed into the grounds, with a number of measures in place depending on the social distancing requirements in June and July.
In a statement, the tournament’s organisers said: “We want to ensure that we can leave decisions on public capacity as late as we can in order to welcome the maximum number of guests, and manage our ticket distribution accordingly.”
Everyone who secured tickets through the public ballot for the 2020 Wimbledon, which was cancelled for the first time since the Second World War, will be given the chance to purchase the same tickets this year, and it is expected that an online platform for general ticket sales will open in June.
However, organisers also confirmed that certain avenues of ticket distribution will not operate in 2021: “Both the queue and ticket resale remain much-loved and important Wimbledon traditions and we look forward to their return in 2022.”
All England Club chairman Ian Hewitt said: “These remain challenging and uncertain times and our thoughts continue to be with all those affected by the pandemic. Although the promise of a return to a more normal existence is on the horizon, we are not there yet.
We are cautiously optimistic that the Championships will play an exciting role as the country begins to embrace a return towards normality
– Ian Hewitt
“As such, we have taken some key decisions in order to provide us with some certainty in our planning and yet also to retain flexibility where we need it the most.
“We remain committed to delivering on our aspiration of staging the best Championships possible. In line with the UK Government’s roadmap, we are cautiously optimistic that the Championships will play an exciting role as the country begins to embrace a return towards normality.”
It has also been confirmed that players, their support teams and officials will be required to stay in official hotels, and invitational doubles for former greats will be suspended.
When the tournament was last held in 2019, Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep won the men’s and women’s titles.
Even though England is leading the way in coming out of lockdown, it is inevitable that we’ll see restrictions in place for months to come. That we’re likely to see reduced capacity at this year’s Wimbledon is not unexpected, and has in fact been the plan for quite some time. I suspect, however, many fans will be like me – happy to see the tournament go ahead at all, especially after last year’s cancellation. As I reported in October 2020, the organisers said that Wimbledon 2021 was going to happen no matter what, and it appears the planning is paying off.
We’ve now seen a US Open and an Australian Open under Covid restrictions, and we know the tournament can be successful. The players don’t seem too adversely affected by the lack of crowds, and the All England Club will be prepared to avoid the quarantine and lodging issues that struck many at Melbourne Park. These earlier two tournaments were, in effect, templates, and England will be in a better place Covid-wise than these two events – I’d put my money on an entertaining and successful couple of weeks of sport.
It may be a shame for fans not to attend but, given the option of emptier stands or no tournament whatsoever, I know many of us would pump for the former. Wimbledon will still take place this year, and I don’t believe this Grand Slam will be any less grand as a result of these precautions.