How Wimbledon was one step ahead when it came to the coronavirus pandemic
By Elliot Snaith
On the 1st April, two weeks after the first lockdown was declared, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) announced that the entire grass-court season was to be cancelled as a public safety precaution for the first time since World War Two due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
With Wimbledon being renowned as the oldest tennis tournament in the world and regarded as one of the most distinguished in the tennis calendar like most events in 2020 it had to cancel. Whilst there was talks of it being held behind closed doors at the time it wasn’t possible due to the amount of people who is involved in the tournament over the two weeks.
With the cancellations and suspensions of many sports around the world the pandemic caused the 2020 sports revenue streams to be below $74 billion which is $61 billion less then what was predicted for that year. With it being announced in June last year by Deloitte that the Premier League would lose £1 billion in revenue because of the pandemic, how did Wimbledon cope with this crisis?
Well unlike many other clubs, leagues and tournaments around the world All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) was one step ahead then other organizations as they were covered by the pandemic insurance which they started buying from 2003 after the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic in 2002.
As from 2003 the AELTC had been paying £1.5 million each year to be covered underneath the pandemic insurance for 17 years costing them around £25.5 million. This led to Wimbledon getting a £114 million pay-out from the insurance making it an impressive investment compared to everyone else.
According to Globaldata SportCal team, data shows that Wimbledon earns around $160 million in media, $151 million in sponsorships and around $52 million in ticket sales. As Wimbledon couldn’t take place as well, they saved $38.7 million on prize money as well as staff wages. So, whilst the £114 million pay-out seems impressive and one of the smartest moves others never thought about, it still had a significant loss from the cancellation.
So, what does 2021 bring for Wimbledon?
Unfortunately, this will be the first year since 2003 that Wimbledon would not be able to get the Pandemic insurance according to CEO Richard Lewis as it would be ‘impossible’ to get. But With the coronavirus restrictions ending on the 21st June in England and Wimbledon set to start on the 28th June there could be potential that full crowds could return back however it would be more likely to be a reduced capacity depending on how things go in each lockdown stage.
Finally, Wimbledon could be following in the same steps as the Australian Open this year, with the removal of line judges what have been part of Wimbledon for over a hundred years from the courts to just using Hawk-Eye system for the calls according to the organisers in which it would make it more Covid-19 secure due to the less people on the court.