The United Kingdom, with roughly a quarter of the confirmed cases of coronavirus as the United States and less than half the known deaths, is leaving nothing to chance in terms of two of its most prominent and prestigious sporting events. Wimbledon has been canceled, and The Open Championship is likely to follow suit.
London's All England Lawn Tennis Tennis and Croquet Club announced Wednesday that its championships, scheduled for June 29 through July 12, would not be held, marking the first cancelation of the event known simply as Wimbledon since World War II. Shortly thereafter, Golf Digest reported that The Open Championship — best known as the British Open — would be canceled, as well. The Open had been scheduled to take place July 16-19 at Royal St. George's Golf Club in Sandwich, England.
The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, which organizes The Open, released a statement Thursday. “We are continuing to work through our options for The Open this year, including postponement,” R&A chief executive Martin Slumbers said in the statement. “Due to a range of external factors, that process is taking some time to resolve. We are well aware of the importance of being able to give clear guidance to fans, players and everyone involved and are working to resolve this as soon as we can. We will give a further update as soon as we are in a position to do so and thank everyone for their support and understanding in this challenging situation.”
However, sources told Golf Digest that the tournament would likely be canceled outright as early as this week. Per Golf Digest, part of the reason the championship is being canceled rather than postponed — such as is the case with the U.S.-based major championships in golf's grand slam — has to do with insurance. Similar to Wimbledon, the R&A has a policy that shields against a global pandemic, and a source indicated The Open would have to cancel by a certain date in order to collect on its insurance premium.
In a statement released by the All England Club, chairman Ian Hewitt commented, “This is a decision that we have not taken lightly, and we have done so with the highest regard for public health and the wellbeing of all those who come together to make Wimbledon happen. It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars but, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year’s Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon’s resources to help those in our local communities and beyond. Our thoughts are with all those who have been and continue to be affected by these unprecedented times.”