Wimbledon forced to defend itself for hosting FULL capacity crowd for finals weekend on July 10 and 11 despite Government’s decision to push back Freedom Day – and claims Gary Neville is off target with elitist jibe
- Wimbledon is set to take place this summer after it was cancelled last year
- July 10 and 11 will have a full-capacity crowd despite ongoing Covid restrictions
- This led to criticism from Gary Neville and the Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham
- They have said the Championships are currently receiving undue preference
- As a result, Wimbledon have been forced to defend itself against claims
Wimbledon on Wednesday announced its expanded ticket plans — and hit back at claims that it is an elitist event given special treatment by the Government.
With 170,000 tickets going on sale at lunchtime on Thursday, there have been suggestions from the likes of Gary Neville and Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham that the Championships are receiving undue preference.
Neville had led the charge when tweeting: ‘Can’t dance at a wedding but can stuff strawberries and champagne down your neck at the All England Club.’
Wimbledon on Wednesday announced its expanded ticket plans — and hit back at claims that it is an elitist event given special treatment by the Government
However, Wimbledon chief executive Sally Bolton defended the tournament and its enhanced ticket arrangements that will see around 22,000 spectators per day and a full Centre Court for the finals, saying: ‘I don’t think that has got anything to do with class. That has just got to do with testing at events. It is likely a number of other events will be announced in the coming days that will also be part of that third stage event research programme.
‘Our view is very clearly that Wimbledon is for everyone. So I don’t recognise us as an elitist organisation. It’s not for us to comment on what it’s possible to do in other settings or on the Government’s decision.’
She could have added that the world snooker final in Sheffield, more than six weeks ago, was also allowed 100 per cent capacity for its climax.
There will be 170,000 tickets for Wimbledon going on sale at lunchtime on Thursday
However, there have been suggestions from the likes of Gary Neville (above) and Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham that the Championships are receiving undue preference
Tickets will be sold online via a registration process on the tournament’s website, although the distribution will be phased. Bolton expressed confidence that this will prevent any crash.
‘We’re very confident that the infrastructure will hold up, we are putting in place the measures to manage the level of demand over a period of time. We are phasing the volume of tickets on sale to manage demand and provide people with as many opportunities as possible to buy, so if they don’t get tickets in the first round, there is further opportunity.’
As expected, those attending will need to provide proof either of a double Covid vaccination or a negative test in the previous 48 hours. The All England Club also revealed that Naomi Osaka remains on the entry list, despite her withdrawal from the French Open and her planned grass court preparatory event in Berlin.
Wimbledon tournament director Jamie Baker offered the possibility that Osaka might be allowed to curtail her media arrangements, having stated that these contribute to mental health issues.
Neville had led the charge when tweeting: ‘Can’t dance at a wedding but can stuff strawberries and champagne down your neck at the All England Club’
Nevertheless, fans will need to provide proof of double vaccination or a recent negative Covid test, but will then be able to move freely around the grounds
‘It is a hypothetical. What I have said is we are completely open to a discussion. On this topic we know that people can still see this in a number of different ways. The door is completely open and we treat every single player really with a tremendous amount of care.’
Prize money this year will be marginally down on 2019, due to the increased costs of Covid compliance and still reduced ticket numbers. The overall pot will be just over £35million with the singles winners earning £1.7m. As has become standard at Grand Slams, the weighting has increased towards lower-ranked competitors, with first-round losers taking away £48,000.
Players will be obliged to stay in a bubble and Wimbledon admitted it has no way of knowing the vaccination status of each player, despite this being a Covid test event. Competitors will be told to desist from signing courtside autographs or taking selfies with fans. Henman Hill will be open, although how populated it will be has not been determined.
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