The All England Club announced the cancellation of the 2020 Wimbledon Championships on Wednesday, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Wimbledon 2020 canceled
Novak Djokovic won’t get the opportunity to defend his title at Wimbledon in 2020. (Image: Frank Molter/Getty)

The decision means that this will be the first year 1945 that Wimbledon will not take place, with the last cancellation being due to World War II. This is also the first peacetime cancellation of the tournament.

Wimbledon Rejected Delay to Late Summer

Wimbledon would have run from June 29 through July 12.

“It is with great regret that the Main Board of the All England Club (AELTC) and the Committee of Management of The Championships have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be canceled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic,” Wimbledon officials said in a statement posted to the tournament website. “Uppermost in our mind has been the health and safety of all of those who come together to make Wimbledon happen … as well as our broader responsibility to society’s efforts to tackle this global challenge to our way of life.”

While organizers considered moving the tournament to late July or August, rescheduling would have posed unique challenges. For example, dew negatively impacts matches on grass courts and would be a bigger problem later in the summer. In addition, the loss of sunlight hours would be problematic for a tournament that does not hold night matches.

In any case, the All England Club acknowledged that it is far from certain that they could run Wimbledon later in the summer even if they wanted to do so.

“With the likelihood that the Government’s measures will continue for many months, it is our view that we must act responsibly to protect the large numbers of people required to prepare The Championships from being at risk,” the All England Club said in its statement, “and equally to consider that the people, supplies and services legally required to stage The Championships would not be available at any point this summer, thus ruling out postponement.”

Players Lament Cancellation on Social Media

Many players reacted with sadness over the cancellation, including Serena Williams and Roger Federer.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the United Kingdom. As of Wednesday afternoon, UK officials had confirmed more than 29,000 cases of the virus in the country, with 2,352 deaths, according to The New York Times. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

Wimbledon became the first Grand Slam event to officially cancel for the 2020 season. The Australian Open took place before coronavirus shutdowns became common, with Novak Djokovic and Sofia Kenin winning singles titles. French Open organizers have postponed the tournament to late September, though that plan has proven unpopular with players and other tournament organizers, who were not informed of the decision.

Meanwhile, the US Open remains on the calendar for Aug. 24 through Sept. 13, though organizers acknowledge that a postponement is possible. Currently, the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is converting into an emergency hospital center with 350 beds.