The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) has said it is confident that its ticketing plan for this year’s Wimbledon Championships will go beyond the initially stated goal of 25% capacity due to the success of the COVID-19 reopening strategy in England.
AELTC last month detailed plans for this year’s edition of the grand slam tournament to go ahead with at least 25% capacity crowds. Wimbledon 2021 is due to take place from June 28 to July 11 and the AELTC said that the 25% capacity figure was based on current guidance from the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA).
The AELTC has pledged to remain flexible as it awaits the outcome of the government’s ongoing Event Research Programme. The government’s roadmap for reopening could see all legal limits on social contact lifted by June 21, a week before Wimbledon is due to commence.
Concerning the current plan for the Championships, an AELTC spokesperson told the Evening Standard newspaper: “While the health and safety of all our guests remains our highest priority, further to the Stage 3 relaxation of restrictions and early positive indications from the Event Research Programme, we are confident that we will be able to increase our ticketing capacities for the Championships this year beyond the minimum 25% position we set out last month.
“This confidence is based in particular on the reintroduction of the rule of six indoors in restaurant settings from May 17, and early indications that Stage 4 guidance could include similar relaxations of the guidance for sports stadia.
“However, we also understand that there remains much discussion amongst government and public health authorities on this topic in light of the Indian (COVID-19) variant, and we are committed to remaining flexible in our approach so that we are able to react accordingly.
“For this reason, we are continuing to leave confirming our ticketing capacities until as late as possible, with all tickets to be made available via an online sale, which we anticipate commencing in mid-June.”
The global pandemic saw Wimbledon cancelled last year for the first time since World War Two. The second grand slam of the year, the French Open, is set to commence in earnest next week, with organisers this month setting out their ticketing and attendance plans.
It was announced last month that this year’s French Open would be postponed by a week in a move designed to maximise fan attendance at the Roland-Garros site. The French Tennis Federation (FFT) confirmed the decision following discussions with the French public authorities and international tennis governing bodies.
As a result, the tournament will now take place from May 24 to June 13, with the main draw to begin on May 30. At the time, the FFT said it hoped the event could be played in front of the “largest possible number of fans”.
The attendance plans are intended to tie in with France’s reopening strategy, which was announced by President Emmanuel Macron on April 29. FFT director general Amelie Oudea-Castera said spectators would need to utilise a health pass to gain entry, either demonstrating proof that they had undertaken a negative PCR or antigen test within 48 hours of attendance, or provide a certificate of vaccination.
Macron detailed a four-phase roadmap out of lockdown, with sports bodies and clubs set to be affected from the second stage. The May 30 to June 8 period takes in the second phase, with up to 5,388 fans being permitted entrance to Roland-Garros per day.
Phase three takes effect from June 9, and for the French Open this means that total daily capacity will increase to 13,146, with a maximum capacity of 5,000 per court.