WIMBLEDON can close its roofs on Centre Court and No.1 Court despite gaining special test status as an outdoor event.
Even though lockdown restrictions were extended on Monday by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the SW19 tennis tournament will be allowed capacity crowds for the women’s and men’s singles finals on July 10-11.
The Royal Box will welcome back famous guests this year, such as Ben Ainslie [pictured right]
The event will start on Monday June 28 with a 50% attendance – Wimbledon usually admits about 42,000 spectators per day – and then rises to 100% capacity for at least the final two days.
This is a significant moment for outdoors sports in the UK since the global pandemic started early last year.
SunSport understands the exemption will still apply even if the live action is interrupted by rain and the roofs need to be used, thereby becoming an ‘indoor’ event.
Punters attending Wimbledon will have to provide vaccine “passports” — proof of vaccinations or negative lateral flow tests.
Like at Queen’s this week in south-west London, face masks must be worn while moving around inside the venue but not while seated.
The decision has caused controversy with Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham saying: “One rule for tennis, another for everyone else.”
Gary Neville, the former Manchester United and England defender, now a prominent Sky Sports commentator, mocked the news.
He tweeted: “Can’t dance at a wedding but can stuff strawberries and champagne down your neck at the All England Club packed with tens of thousands crammed like sardines in a tin.”
Further details on social-distancing implications will be announced on Wednesday but tickets are set to go on sale this week.
Wimbledon was cancelled last year for the first time since the Second World War.
And a club statement said: “We are continuing to work closely with the Government to finalise the details of our participation in the Event Research Programme, including the requirements for Covid-status certification for spectators.”
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