Wimbledon canceled for the first time since World War Two due to coronavirus

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The Wimbledon championships were canceled for the first time since World War Two on Wednesday as the coronavirus pandemic struck another blue-riband sports event off the calendar and wiped out the entire tennis grasscourt season.

While the decision had looked inevitable for some time, since the virtual shutdown of world sport and the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics, Wimbledon had been one of the few events not to have been officially canceled or postponed.

But after emergency talks between the various stakeholders over the last few days, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) announced that it was impossible for the grasscourt Grand Slam, scheduled for June 29-July 12, to take place.

Read more: Expo 2020 Dubai committee recommends one-year delay for world fair

“It is with great regret that the main board ... have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be canceled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic,” the AELTC said in a statement.

“The 134th Championships will instead be staged from June 28 to July 11, 2021.”

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Following the cancellation of the grasscourt major, and with the pandemic worsening in Europe and the US, the men's ATP Tour, women's WTA Tour, and the International Tennis Federation extended the suspension of professional tennis for another five weeks to July 13.

“At this time, tournaments taking place from July 13, 2020 onwards are still planning to proceed as per the published schedule,” said a joint statement from the governing bodies.

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The French Open, originally due to be held from May 24-June 7 was postponed and controversially rescheduled by the French tennis federation for Sept. 20-Oct. 4, shortly after the end of the US Open.

The US Open organizers said they were continuing with their plans to host the hardcourt Grand Slam in New York as scheduled from Aug 31-Sep 14.

Coronavirus in the UK

Britain's death toll from the virus reached 2,352 on Wednesday, according to NHS figures.

On Wednesday, 29,474 people had tested positive for the virus, an increase of 4,324 over the previous day.

The UK initially appeared to consider the strategy of herd immunity, which involves allowing a significant part of the population to catch the virus in the hope that they become immune to it and prevent subsequent outbreaks.

Read more: Half of the UK population could have coronavirus: Oxford study

However, the government has since shifted to a containment strategy in line with other countries.

UK residents are now advised to stay at home and only allowed out for essential tasks or one exercise session a day.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for the virus, as has heir to the throne Prince Charles.

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