With the coronavirus outbreak having wreaked havoc on the tennis calendar, it remains to be seen what will the Wimbledon organisers do. One option worth exploring is playing the tournament during autumn according to tennis broadcaster Leif Shiras.
Wimbledon organisers have already expressed their concerns about playing the tournament in front of empty stands but thing have moved rapidly from there.
Countries world over have announced lockdowns for weeks, underlining the gravity of the issue and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a ban on getting out of the house other than for very essential reasons. Law-enforcement agencies have been told to “break up public gatherings and fine people” who were found to be on the wrong side of the rule.
The tennis calendar is already suspended till the first week of June with the French Open authorities having already shifted their competition to September 20. What this means is the chances of Wimbledon being played as scheduled look bleak.
And according to tennis broadcaster Shiras, there is a good chance of Wimbledon being pushed to the autumn if the tournament cannot go ahead according to plan.
Speaking to Sky Sport, Shiras said the top brass at Wimbledon might have to start rethinking of what needs to be done in case the situation with respect to the pandemic doesn’t change for the better over the next few weeks.
“I hope we have Wimbledon but you have to feel a two-week event with over half-a-million visitors, over 300 players, is it still a dangerous situation post-pandemic? Maybe,” Shiras told Sky Sports from his home in California.”
“That’s the question Wimbledon has to answer and it’s going to be a difficult one to find a conclusion.”
One of the suggestions the former world number 31 gave was to hold the tournament in autumn. While the conditions during those months would be a lot cooler, he also said the tournament authorities wouldn’t have a lot of problem convincing fans, players or critics for the shift.
“It’s [playing in fall] doable, I suppose. You might have cooler conditions but if it was a time in our planet’s history when we could get away with it, I think Wimbledon might be worth trying at that time of the year.”
For now though, it looks like a lot of decisions need to be taken in line with the fluid situation around the virus outbreak.