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Wimbledon 2020 cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic

LONDON, April 1: The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on Wednesday decided to cancel the historic Wimbledon Championships, in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“It is with great regret that the AELTC has today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic.The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021,” it said in a post on Twitter.

Our efforts will now be focused on supporting those affected by the coronavirus crisis.

The French Open has already decided to postpone this year’s competition from May to September in the wake of coronavirus which has claimed over 33,000 lives across the world so far.

Just like the Olympic Games, this will be the first time that the Championships, the third tennis grand slam of the year, will not be held during peace time. The tournament wasn’t held from 1915 to 1918 due to the First World War and then again from 1940 to 1945 due to the Second World War.

Roger Federer holds the record for the most Men’s singles titles with 8 wins. He broke the record of Pete Sampras, who has seven wins to his name. Englishman William Renshaw too won the tournament seven times, but in the amateur era.

Among women, the legendary Martina Navratilova holds the record with 9 singles titles. Steffi Graff and Serena Williams have won the title 7 times.

The tournament was played for the first time in the year 1884.

Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker on Tuesday pleaded for tournament chiefs to wait longer before making a decision.

“I really hope Wimbledon will wait until the end of April for decision!” he tweeted.

“The tourney is first week of July... patience is a virtue.” But former women’s world number one Amelie Mauresmo, the 2006 women’s champion, said the 2020 season would probably need to be scrapped.

The cancellation of Wimbledon could mean multiple champions Federer, Serena Williams and Venus Williams have played at the All England Club for the final time.

Federer and Serena will be nearly 40 by the time of the 2021 championships and Venus will be 41.

Serena, beaten in last year’s final by Halep, is stuck on 23 Grand Slam singles titles -- agonisingly one away from equalling Margaret Court’s record.

The French Tennis Federation provoked widespread anger with its unilateral decision to move the French Open from its original May 24 start date to begin on September 20.

That puts the start only one week after the planned date of the US Open men’s final.

2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed by a year

TOKYO, Mar 24: Japan’s prime minister and the head of the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games by a year Tuesday in an extraordinary move, unprecedented in peacetime, as the world battles the coronavirus pandemic.

“I proposed to postpone for about a year and president Bach responded with 100 percent agreement,” Shinzo Abe told reporters referring to Thomas Bach, head of the IOC.

The move would be a devastating blow for the city of Tokyo, which had won widespread praise for its organisation, with venues finished well ahead of time and tickets massively oversubscribed. The Olympics, which has experienced boycotts, terrorist attacks and protests, but has been held every four years since 1948, would be the highest-profile event affected by the virus that has killed thousands and closed sports competitions worldwide.

The IOC has come under increasing pressure in recent days to postpone the Games, scheduled to start on July 24, with 1.7 billion people across the planet in lockdown to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Training has become impossible for many athletes and exposes them to the risk of contracting or spreading the disease. Competitions and qualifiers have been scrapped, while international travel is severely limited.

On Sunday, the IOC had initially given itself a deadline of four weeks to come up with a proposal to postpone the Games, a Herculean task that touches on every aspect of Tokyo 2020 planning from venues to security to ticketing.

But after Canada and Australia withdrew their teams and the powerful US Olympic Committee and World Athletics also joined the chorus calling for a postponement, the writing was on the wall for the July start.

Tokyo was spending some $12.6 billion to host the Games, according to its latest budget, and experts believe a postponement could cost it some $6 billion in the short-term before recouping it when they eventually go ahead.

It will also be a bitter blow to sponsors and major broadcasters who rely on the four-yearly extravaganza for critical advertising revenue.

It is not the first time Tokyo has seen unscheduled changes to the Games -- it was due to be the first Asian country to host the Olympics in 1940 before pulling out due to international pressure over its war with China.

The IOC came under fire for taking so long to make its decision after other major events such as the European Football Championships already announced postponements.

British cyclist Callum Skinner had strongly criticised IOC president Thomas Bach, accusing him of placing his own interests first.

“Bach’s stubbornness and arrogance has spectacularly failed in this instance and he has weakened the Olympic movement,” Skinner wrote on Twitter.

“This isn’t the first time he has put his own motives above the athletes and the movement.”

But Tokyo 2020 organisers point to the unparalleled complexity -- not to mention cost -- of shifting the Games. It is not even clear venues will be available and tens of thousands of hotel rooms will need to be cancelled and rebooked.

“It is mind-bogglingly complex to make a sudden change after seven years of preparation for the biggest sporting event in the world,” said Michael Payne, the IOC’s former head of marketing.

Squeezing in the 16-day Games into what will already be a hugely crowded 2021 calendar is another major headache, with arguably the two biggest sports, swimming and athletics, due to hold their world championships that summer.

However, World Athletics has already said it was prepared to shift its world championships, scheduled for August 6-15 next year in Oregon, to accommodate a move in the Games.

 



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