Wimbledon plans return in 2021, with or without fans

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — The Wimbledon tennis tournament is planning its comeback in 2021.

Wimbledon was the only Grand Slam tournament canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the All England Club announced plans Friday for its return next year.

“Staging The Championships in 2021 is our number one priority and we are actively engaged in scenario planning in order to deliver on that priority,” All England Club chief executive Sally Bolton said.

The tournament, canceled this year for the first time since 1945, is scheduled to run next year from June 28-July 11. It could be held at full capacity, reduced capacity or without fans, the club said.

All of the options are dependent on the status of government and public health guidelines, the club said.

The U.S. Open and French Open were held this year but with strict protocols to reduce the possibility of spreading the virus. No fans were allowed at Flushing Meadows, while Roland Garros was limited to 1,000 fans per day.

“Our overriding priority will continue to be the health and safety of all of our stakeholders, in particular our guests, our staff, and our competitors,” the All England Club said. “We are working closely with the relevant government and public health authorities, alongside the rest of the sports industry, to understand the varying challenges and opportunities presented by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”

The Australian Open was held this year before the coronavirus pandemic spread around the world, but the 2021 tournament could be affected. Next year’s tournament at Melbourne Park is scheduled to run from Jan. 18-31.

Australian Open chief executive Craig Tiley has said he wants international tennis players arriving for the tournament to be exempt from the 14-day hotel quarantines that are mandatory for inbound travelers.

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