Spectators set to return for Wimbledon 2021 as Tim Henman outlines plans

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Spectators look set to be in attendance at Wimbledon this summer after the UK government outlined their roadmap to escape from Covid-19 lockdown.

Four steps have been outlined that will allow the UK to emerge from a tight lockdown, with the fourth and final step of the recovery plan aims for the lifting of all restrictions on sports and entertainment events from June 21 at the earliest, “using enhanced testing approaches and other measures” which are to be trialled at pilot events starting from April.

The semi-finals and the final of Euro 2020 are due to be played at Wembley on July 6, 7 and 11, while Wimbledon gets underway on June 28.

Sports venues will be able to welcome spectators back on a limited basis at step three of the recovery plan, no earlier than May 17.

At that point, larger outdoor seated venues will be given a “special provision” to allow in up to 10,000 people. For smaller outdoor venues or those without seating, this would be capped at 4,000 people or 50 per cent of capacity, whichever is lower. For indoor venues, the cap will be 1,000 people or 50 per cent capacity, whichever is lower.

Tim Henman at Wimbledon

Tennis365 have been informed by sources close to the Wimbledon committee that they have been “hopeful” of welcoming spectators after positive talks with government officials, with All England Club committee member Tim Henman telling us that plans for The Championship are advanced and detailed.

“Certain decisions can be delayed, but you need to have some lead time to get things in place and that means making calls as soon as possible on what we can realistically do,” the former world No.4 told us.

We learned this last year when we were discussing what we could do and we were looking at how many people we needed to have on-site.

“There needs to be about 4,500 on-site for The Championships and I was questioning that in my mind, but once you start thinking about players, coaches, trainers, ball kids, umpire, line calls, maintenance staff, court staff, broadcasting…. there are so many people involved. 

“As we look forward to the 2021 Championships, a lot of it is still up in the air and we are waiting to see what happens with the pandemic, but there is a lot of planning taking place to deliver The Championships in the best possible way.

Meanwhile, tennis clubs in England are set to open once again on March 29th, after closing their doors throughout 2021 due to Covid-19 restrictions.

A Lawn Tennis Association spokesperson stated: “We are pleased that there is now a clear date for when outdoor tennis will be allowed to resume in England. We know sport has a key role in supporting the physical and mental health of the nation, so its return will give a boost to the whole country, and is very welcome. 

“Clearly, tennis is a naturally socially-distanced and safe activity and so we would have liked restrictions to be lifted without delay and made the case for this. However we are now focussed on supporting venues, coaches, officials and players to prepare for the return of outdoor tennis on 29th March.

“It is also important that indoor facilities can reopen as soon as it is safe for them to do so. Many of the country’s network of indoor tennis facilities have suffered real financial challenges so it is vital that we protect these community assets to avoid them closing permanently, and we are keen to work with Government on this.

“The initial plans for the return of spectators to sports stadia are also welcome, and we will continue to work closely with Government ahead of the LTA’s summer grass court events. We will share more information with tennis fans in due course.”

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