Hidden amid the AELTC’s statement about the cancellation of The Championships due to the coronavirus that shocked the world on Wednesday, lay another piece of news, that Wimbledon is offering the use of its facilities to the NHS and London Resilience Partnership to help Britain fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our efforts will now be focused on contributing to the emergency response and supporting those affected by the coronavirus crisis,” Richard Lewis CBE, AELTC Chief Executive said in the statement. We have begun distributing medical equipment and offered the use of our facilities to the NHS and to the London Resilience Partnership, the collection of agencies in London fighting the battle against COVID-19. Richard Lewis
With no Championships to be held at Wimbledon for the first time since World War II, The Club has said it is distributing medical equipment as well as providing funding support, amongst other efforts to help the cause.
“Our efforts will now be focused on contributing to the emergency response and supporting those affected by the coronavirus crisis,” Richard Lewis CBE, AELTC Chief Executive said in the statement.
“We have begun distributing medical equipment and offered the use of our facilities to the NHS and to the London Resilience Partnership, the collection of agencies in London fighting the battle against COVID-19.
“We are working with the local authorities in Merton and Wandsworth, particularly on food distribution, and we are distributing food supplies through our partnership with City Harvest.
“Our charity, the Wimbledon Foundation, is offering funding support to our local communities through our partnership with the London Community Foundation, and more broadly for the London and UK population through our partnership with the British Red Cross, the Foundation’s emergency response charity.”
As it happened when the outbreak of World War II forced Wimbledon’s cancellation and civil defence and military personnel replaced elite tennis players inside The Club, organisers are seeking to help in this latest crisis and hoping to help avoid an overload on the NHS.
For those bemoaning the loss of play on the hallowed lawns of SW19 this year, the Telegraph’s interview with Wimbledon’s Head Groundsman Neil Stubley explains why the decision was taken to pull the plug completely on this year’s Championships.
“In late summer the sun gets lower in the sky,” Stubley said. “Then the dew point on the grass arrives earlier, and the courts get slippery.
“The window for play becomes shorter at both ends [of the day].
“As much as it would be lovely to be able to play in late summer and autumn, it’s not possible.
“It’s true that we have staged Davis Cup matches in September, but play would start at 11.30am or noon and finish by 5pm, whereas, at The Championships, you’re going from 11am until 9pm every day.
“To get through 670 matches over 13 days is a challenge in the height of summer, let alone at other times of the year.”
Both pro tours have now been put on hold until 13 July, effectively wiping out the grass and clay court seasons, although the French Open has shifted to later in the year in September and US Open organisers are pressing ahead with plans to stage the final Grand Slam as scheduled in late August.
Meanwhile, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the site of the US Open, is already being converted into a 350 bed makeshift hospital and a commissary to ease the overload on the New York hospitals during the current coronavirus crisis.