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Wimbledon canceled for first time since World War II due to coronavirus

Wimbledon canceled for first time since World War II due to coronavirus 1

There was no NCAA Tournament and there won’t be a Wimbledon, either.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the main board of the All-England Club canceled the Grand Slam tournament on Wednesday after an emergency meeting.

This marks the first time the oldest tennis major won’t be played since World War II. It was scheduled to be held from June 29 to July 12 in London. The tournament began in 1877 and has been played every year aside from two periods: 1915-18 (World War I) and 1940-45 (World War II).

“This is a decision that we have not taken lightly, and we have done so with the highest regard for public health and the well-being of all those who come together to make Wimbledon happen,” Ian Hewitt, the All-England Club Chairman, said in a statement.

“It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars but, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon’s resources to help those in our local communities and beyond. Our thoughts are with all those who have been and continue to be affected by these unprecedented times.”

The French Open has been pushed back, from May 24-June 6 to Sept. 20-Oct. 4, but the US Open still expects to play its tournament as expected from Aug. 24 through Sept. 13 in Queens.

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Wednesday’s decision means Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep will not get a chance to defend their Wimbledon titles from 2019.

The cancellation also takes away what might have been one of Roger Federer’s best chances to try to add to his 20 Grand Slam titles, including a record eight at Wimbledon, where he lost a fifth-set tiebreaker to Djokovic in the last final after holding a pair of championship points. Federer, who turns 39 in August, is currently recovering from knee surgery and planned to return in time for the grass-court circuit.

In a statement last week, the All England Club said that postponing the two-week event would not come “without significant risk and difficulty” because of the grass surface. The club also said then that it already had ruled out “playing behind closed doors” without spectators.

The tennis schedule already had been affected by the illness that has spread around the world, with about 20 tournaments postponed or canceled.

Hundreds of thousands of people have caught COVID-19, and thousands have died. For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough, but also milder cases of pneumonia, sometimes requiring hospitalization.

— With AP

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