WIMBLEDON are planning to have a “reduced number of spectators” this summer – but the famous Queue will not be permitted.
The world’s most prestigious tennis tournament is scheduled to begin on Monday June 28 with building and preparation work starting from next month.
The event was cancelled in 2020 for the first time since the Second World War due to the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s four-stage roadmap out of the nationwide lockdown states that no sooner than June 21 “all limits on social contact, such as rule of six, to be removed for both indoor and outdoor settings”.
Social distancing measurements are also likely to be scrapped for public areas.
However the All England Club admits “the most likely outcome for this year’s Championships, as an outdoor venue, is a reduced number of spectators within the Grounds”.
A decision on how many fans can enter the SW19 event per daily has not been determined – there were more than 500,000 in attendance over 13 days in 2019.
But changing government guidelines could see an “increase or require a decrease in attendance” during the two-week Championships.
The Queue has become a much-loved British tradition with thousands of tennis lovers waiting patiently in line in tents and deckchairs, hoping to take advantage of available ground passes.
Yet “given the likelihood of continued social distancing requirements” and due to health and safety concerns, there will be no Queue or Ticket Resale in operation.
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And in the absence also of the LTA and Wimbledon Public Ballots, tickets will only be made available online in June.
The timing of this doesn’t leave long for punters to make travel and hotel arrangements before the first balls are struck in anger on Centre Court.
In a statement, the AELTC said: “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.
“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.”
World No.1 Novak Djokovic from Serbia and Romanian Simona Halep were the men’s and women’s singles champions in 2019.
As part of the AETLC’s protocols on “infection control measures”, all players and their support staff will be required to stay in official hotels – even two-time champion Andy Murray, who lives in Surrey.
AETLC 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.
“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.”