Wimbledon is expected to become the latest big sporting event to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic this week.
Organisers are due to make a final decision at an emergency board meeting, but there appears only one conceivable outcome.
Here, the PA news agency answers the key questions around what the cancellation of Wimbledon would mean.
Why cancel now?
The AELTC is continuing a detailed evaluation of all scenarios for The Championships 2020, including postponement and cancellation, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.https://t.co/BjlPiyuTtf
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) March 25, 2020
Although Wimbledon is not due to start until June 29, preparations for the tournament would need to begin in earnest at the end of April, requiring significant numbers of people on site. Given the size and global nature of the event, pressing ahead while much of the world is in forms of lockdown, and likely to remain that way for a number of weeks, would be out of step with both Government guidelines and the public mood.
Has this happened before?
Since the first Wimbledon tournament in 1877, there have only been 10 years where it has not been held, all of them due to war. Since 1946, Wimbledon has been staged every year.
What will this mean financially?
Wimbledon is well placed because it has insurance to cover a pandemic, although the PA news agency understands the policy specifies things it will cover and those it may not. The Lawn Tennis Association’s annual surplus – which exceeded £40million in 2018, the most recent year for which accounts are publicly available – is covered.
How about other businesses?
The Wimbledon fortnight is the biggest of the year for local businesses like hotels, restaurants and bars. With those employers already forced to close to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the cancellation of Wimbledon would be another huge blow. PA understands Wimbledon are looking into ways to offer support.
Would ticket-holders be able to come in 2021?
Final call 📣
If 2020 is anything like 2019, you won't want to miss it… pic.twitter.com/4DOaYL32bK
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) October 21, 2019
That is one of the details being worked out. Full refunds will be offered to all those who had secured tickets for 2020.
What about the players?
Tennis fans will already be starting to wonder whether a knock-on effect of a cancellation could be that the likes of Roger Federer, Venus Williams and Serena Williams have played at SW19 for the last time. Federer and Serena will both be nearly 40 next summer and Venus will be 41. It has been a hugely special tournament for all three, so they will surely do everything they can to be there in 2021.