WIMBLEDON CHIEFS will decide next week whether to axe the tennis championships for the first time since the Second World War.
An emergency board meeting will be held to determine if the SW19 grass-court event needs to be postponed or cancelled in the wake of the global COVID-19 outbreak.
Playing behind closed doors given government restrictions on mass gatherings has been ruled out.
A statement said: “The AELTC can confirm it is continuing a detailed evaluation of all scenarios for The Championships, including postponement and cancellation, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“The AELTC has been contingency planning since January, working closely with the UK government and public health authorities to follow their advice and understand the likely impact of COVID-19.”
While all professional tennis has been stopped until the start of June, no Grand Slam has been cancelled since 1945.
Based on public health advice, the very short window to go ahead due to the nature of our surface suggestspostponement has significant risk and difficulty.
The French Open which had set for May and June has been rescheduled for September – a week after the US Open.
There are travel bans in place for many nations and UK citizens have been told to self-isolate and observe social distancing.
On government advice, the All-England Club, Wimbledon Park Golf Club and Raynes Park are currently closed.
The build for the Championships is due to start at the end of April.
The AELTC said: “Based on the advice we have received from the public health authorities, the very short window available to us to stage The Championships due to the nature of our surface suggests that postponement is not without significant risk and difficulty.
“Playing behind closed doors has been formally ruled out.”
Richard Lewis, AELTC chief executive, said: “The unprecedented challenge presented by the COVID-19 crisis continues to affect our way of life in ways that we could not have imagined.
“Our thoughts are with all those affected in the UK and around the world.
“The single most important consideration is one of public health, and we are determined to act responsibly through the decisions we make.
“We are working hard to bring certainty to our plans for 2020 and have convened an emergency meeting of the AELTC Main Board for next week, at which a decision will be made.”
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