Wimbledon 2020 is officially cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak

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Wimbledon organisers, the All England Lawn Tennis Club, have today officially confirmed the cancellation of the 2020 edition of the championships, with the world's oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament becoming yet another sporting casualty of the coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement posted today, they wrote: "It is with great regret that the Main Board of the All England Club (AELTC) and the Committee of Management of The Championships have 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."

The decision marks the first time since 1945 that the tournament will not take place. 

Wimbledon officials had already previously announced that it would be highly difficult for them to reschedule, pointing out 'the very short window available to us to stage The Championships due to the nature of our surface.' 

In view of the ongoing measures in place around the world regarding social distancing, the possibility of playing the tournament behind closed doors was also swiftly ruled out.

Whilst French Open chiefs recently made the controversial decision to postpone their 2020 tournament from May to September owing to the coronavirus pandemic, this option simply is not open to Wimbledon organisers.

Unlike many other surfaces, the preparation and maintenance of Wimbledon's grass courts is a long and involved process. Per the All England Club, the perennial ryegrass courts on which matches are played take months to cultivate from start-to-finish.

These restrictions make a revised date for the tournament, which had been due to start on June 29, a virtual impossibility - given the current world health crisis.

Sadly, today's announcement will deny defending champions Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep the chance to defend their titles. It will also prove a huge financial blow to organisers, as the tournament rakes in millions from sponsorship deals, ticket sales and broadcast rights.

There may also be questions over whether the cancellation might mean that we have seen some Wimbledon legends in truly competitive action at SW19 for the last time.

Multiple-time champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams, both now 38 years old, have each demonstrated amazing staying power at the top of the sport in recent years. However, the pair will be approaching 40 by the time the 2021 edition of the tournament takes place. One would have to wonder what affect the current sporting shutdown will have on their respective abilities to come back and challenge for championships.

Williams, in particular, sits just one Grand Slam victory away from Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 - and will be hopeful that she is afforded the chance to add to her haul once the threats posed by covid-19 have subsided.

Such are the unprecedented times in which we live, that the decision to cancel this year's Wimbledon championship was largely inevitable - and we are all facing bigger issues right now than the cancellation of a tennis tournament.

The cancellation of an event held in such great esteem as Wimbledon, though, is still a sad moment for sports enthusiasts worldwide.

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