Sunday, October 17News That Matters

Wimbledon to insist tennis stars stay in Covid-secure hotels

Wimbledon will risk a backlash from the world’s top tennis stars by making them stay in Covid-secure hotels in central London as a condition for entry into this summer’s Championships.

Sportsmail has learned that all players, coaches and umpires will be told they must stay in designated hotels rather than book private accommodation in Wimbledon, which is the preferred option for the vast majority of players. 

The All England Club will announce further details of their operational plan for Wimbledon next week.

The All England Club want as many fans to attend as possible so will have strict protocols

The All England Club want as many fans to attend as possible so will have strict protocols

The All England Club want as many fans to attend as possible so will have strict protocols

The decision has been deemed a necessary mitigation measure following talks with Public Health England and the Sports Ground Safety Authority, despite the fact that the Championships do not start until June 28, a week after the Government are hoping to have lifted all lockdown restrictions.

It is hoped that following such stringent protocols will increase the numbers of spectators permitted to attend, although the capacity is still likely to be restricted.

‘We are putting in place a variety of infection control measures in line with our aspiration to stage a safe, best-practice and trusted event,’ a spokesperson confirmed to Sportsmail.

‘One of the priority measures is a minimised risk environment for the players. As such, based on current guidance, there will be official hotels for all players, their support teams, and key groups such as officials, which will be a mandatory requirement for entry into this year’s Championships.’ 

The requirement to stay in official hotels will be unpopular with many players, who in addition to being denied the home comforts of staying in private houses with their families, will face potentially long journeys which could impact on their preparation time.

Andy Murray usually stays at home in Surrey during Wimbledon but will have to be in a hotel

Andy Murray usually stays at home in Surrey during Wimbledon but will have to be in a hotel

Andy Murray usually stays at home in Surrey during Wimbledon but will have to be in a hotel

A shortage of hotels in south-west London means that a more central location is the only realistic option, and it is understood that one of the large chains close to Waterloo is among those that have been looked at.

Many players have become accustomed to renting the same house in Wimbledon every year, often for five- figure sums. Roger Federer books out two homes in the same road, and Andy Murray lives nearby in Surrey and usually stays at home during the tournament.

There is also angst brewing about a similar situation developing at the Miami Open later this month and it is likely to rear its head for the Cinch Championships at Queen’s prior to Wimbledon. 

The tournament has block booked a west London hotel for official personnel, in line with current ATP Tour protocols.

Roger Federer usually rents out two houses in Wimbledon for the duration of the tournament

Roger Federer usually rents out two houses in Wimbledon for the duration of the tournament

Roger Federer usually rents out two houses in Wimbledon for the duration of the tournament

Roger Federer was on Thursday night upset in his second comeback match at the Qatar Open, beaten 3-6, 6-1, 7-5 by Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili.