No queue, reduced crowds at Wimbledon as COVID-19 causes ticketing change

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Wimbledon General Views

(Reuters) - Wimbledon's famous ticket queue will not operate this year and the number of fans inside the grounds at the grasscourt Grand Slam is likely to be reduced, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) said on Thursday.

The queue, which has become part of Wimbledon folklore, with fans lining up from the early hours and even camping overnight to snap up tickets for the showcourts and grounds, will be abandoned for this year's tournament in favour of online sales.

The Wimbledon Championships were cancelled last year for the first time in the Open era due to the COVID-19 pandemic but the AELTC board hopes to welcome fans back in June-July.

"At this point in time, the most likely outcome for this year's Championships, as an outdoor venue, is a reduced number of spectators within the grounds," it said in a statement.

"For this reason, we want to ensure that we can leave decisions on public capacity as late as we can in order to welcome the maximum number of guests, and manage our ticket distribution accordingly.

"Given the likelihood of continued social distancing requirements and with consideration for the health and safety of all the public, there will not be a Queue or Ticket Resale in operation for this year's Championships."

The board also said those who were successful in the public ballot last year will have the opportunity to purchase tickets for the 2022 edition for the same day and court.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) is not holding a ballot for tickets this year, with an online platform in place for ticket sales in June and there will be no reselling within the grounds.

"Both the queue and ticket resale remain much-loved and important traditions and we look forward to their return in 2022," added the statement.

AELTC chairman Ian Hewitt said that while the promise of a return to a more normal existence was on the horizon, we are not there yet.

"As such, we have taken some key decisions in order to provide us with some certainty in our planning, and yet also to retain flexibility where we need it the most," he said.

The AELTC also said that any players who wish to participate at the Championships this year must stay at the official hotels to minimise risk and curb the spread of the virus.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)