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31 Mar, 2020 18:21

Game over: Wimbledon set for first cancellation since World War II as coronavirus continues to ravage sporting calendar

Game over: Wimbledon set for first cancellation since World War II as coronavirus continues to ravage sporting calendar

The most famous tennis tournament of them all, Wimbledon, appears certain to be the latest major sports event to be affected by the outbreak of Covid-19 as the All England Club braces itself to announce its cancellation.

Wimbledon officials announced last week that several options were on the table ahead of a final decision being made regarding the hosting this summer's grass-court spectacular.

But as the rate of Covid-19 infections increases in the English capital, it is appearing more and more likely that the 2020 championships will not proceed. It would be the first time since 1945 that the tournament hasn't taken place as planned.

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The All England Club had hoped to hold off on making a decision until a later date, but a final call appears imminent after chief executive Richard Lewis confirmed that an emergency board meeting was to take place this week. 

German tennis federation vice-president Dirk Hordorff fueled speculation by telling Sky Sports Germany that the cancellation of Wimbledon has already been decided upon and would be revealed on Wednesday. 

"I am also involved in the bodies of the ATP and WTA. The necessary decisions have already been made there and Wimbledon will decide to cancel next Wednesday. There is no doubt about it," Hordorff said. 

"This is necessary in the current situation. It is completely unrealistic to imagine that, with the travel restrictions that we currently have, an international tennis tournament where hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world would travel (can happen). That is unthinkable."

Organizers of the French Open provoked anger among the tennis community when they unilaterally announced that their tournament would be pushed back from May/June to September/October without consultation with other tennis stakeholders or officials. But a similar measure for Wimbledon has been deemed impractical, given the specific requirements needed for grass-court play.

Meanwhile, Horndorff also said that French Open officials are attempting to reconcile anger within the tennis world at the postponement of the event, but also admitted that he doesn't expect that tournament to go ahead anyway.

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"I can simply predict that the French Open will not be relocated as it was intended," said Hordorff.

"Either it will let itself be included in a sensible plan with the entire tennis family or it will feel the consequences of the entire tennis family. It will be deprived of (ranking) points and will degenerate into a chaos event.

"Even people there have understood that and they are slowly creeping back. Solidarity is the order of the day. It is a matter of being together and not going it alone, as the president of the French tennis federation did."