Spectators’ safety key in Wimbledon 2021


Wimbledon future plans 2022-2028 Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

Following the publication of the UK Government’s ‘Roadmap out of Lockdown’, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) Main Board and Committee of Management met to consider some operational decisions in relation to planning for The Championships 2021 (read Wimbledon – the oldest tennis tournament in the world and are widely regarded as the most prestigious).

‘The Wimbledon’ stated, “Our aspiration remains to stage the best Championships possible in the context of the public health situation this summer, with the health and safety of our guests, staff, competitors, and community remaining our highest priority.”

The 2021 Wimbledon Championships will be the 134th edition of the tournament and will be held at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London. The tournament will be played only on grass courts. The main draw matches will be played at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. It is slated to be held from June 28th 2021 to July 11th, 2021.

“We are continuing to work closely with the UK Government, public health authorities and the rest of sport with the ambition of welcoming spectators safely to sports events this summer. Based on these conversations, and taking on board the guidance provided by the Sports Ground Safety Authority, as well as transport and food and drink guidance, at this point in time, the most likely outcome for this year’s Championships, as an outdoor venue, is a reduced number of spectators within the Grounds. However, we are taking every step to remain as flexible as possible to ensure we are able to react to changing circumstances that may allow an increase or require a decrease in attendance, both ahead of and during the Wimbledon Fortnight.”

‘The Wimbledon’ further stated, “For this reason, 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. As a result, rather than risk ongoing uncertainty and disappointment this year, we intend to give everyone who was successful in the Wimbledon Public Ballot, and paid for their tickets in 2020, the opportunity to purchase tickets to The Championships 2022 for the same day and court, subject of course to the regulations and guidance prevailing at the relevant time. This is in order to ensure, as far as reasonably possible, a fair and equal opportunity for all these individuals to attend The Championships. For the same reasons the LTA will not be holding their ballot for tickets to The Championships this year, but will be providing an online platform for ticket sales in June.”

“Apart from this, given the chances of continued social distancing requirements and with consideration for the health and safety of all the public, there will not be a Queue or Ticket Resale in operation for this year’s Championships. Both the Queue and Ticket Resale remain much-loved and important Wimbledon traditions, and we look forward to their return in 2022. In the absence of the Queue, the Wimbledon Public Ballot and the LTA Ballot this year, tickets for the public to attend The Championships 2021 will be made available online and we anticipate this will begin in June.”

“In line with UK Government and public health guidance, we are also putting in place a series of infection control measures. One of the priority measures is to create a minimized risk environment for the players. As such, based on current guidance, there will be official hotels for all players, their support teams, and key groups such as officials, which will be a mandatory requirement for entry into and participation in this year’s Championships. We will also not be staging the Invitation Doubles events in 2021, and there will be no Last 8 Club operation on site. At this point in time, we have not been advised that these measures need to include the restriction of spectator movement around the grounds.”

Commented Ian Hewitt, AELTC Chairman, “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. 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.”

Added Hewitt, “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. We remain humbled and heartened by the passion for Wimbledon shown by our fans around the world, and we so look forward to seeing the world’s best tennis players setting foot on our courts once again.”

Wimbledon stood canceled last year for the first time since World War II after organizers admitted that the challenges posed by COVID-19 will be hard to tackle.

Wimbledon Park Project

In the midst of planning for this year’s Championships, the AELTC has also begun to embark on a public consultation process for the AELTC Wimbledon Park Project, which refers to the developing proposals for the use of the AELTC’s landholding in Wimbledon Park. The consultation is expected to end in June, with a planning application to be submitted in July. Subject to planning, it is envisaged that the project would commence in 2022, with the various aspects of the plan being delivered in sequence, including the staging of Qualifying within the AELTC’s extended Grounds by 2028.

If the project goes as per plan, the AELTC said it would be able to stage the qualifying rounds of Wimbledon within the extended grounds by 2028. The AELTC has been drawing up plans for the expansion after striking a deal to acquire Wimbledon Park Golf Club in December 2018.

The AELTC had already owned the lease on the golf club, but the reins of the same was not due to come back to the hands of the body until 2041. The AELTC struck a deal worth £65m (€76m/$90.5m) after Wimbledon Park members voted 82 percent in favor of the agreement reached.

The expansion would pave the way for Wimbledon to keep pace with fellow Grand Slams – the Australian Open, French Open and US Open – which have all undergone reconfiguration projects in recent years. The addition of the golf club’s land will triple the size of the Wimbledon grounds from the 42 acres on which it presently sits.

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