By Sana Noor Haq, CNN
As the Wimbledon tennis championships return this summer, organizers have announced updated measures including reduced stadium capacities, Covid-19 status certification for spectators, and a 5% cut to prize money.
The grass-court grand slam was the only major to be canceled in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. This year, it is scheduled to take place in its usual slot in the calendar with the main draw starting on June 28.
Tournament organizer the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) said the grand slam will be a pilot event in the third phase of the UK government’s Events Research Programme (ERP), with ticket holders required to follow strict entry requirements and provide consent to participate in the science-led scheme.
The news comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the extension of England’s pandemic restrictions from June 21 to July 19, attributing the decision to the prevalence of the Delta variant.
100% stadium capacity
In line with government approval, Wimbledon organizers said 2021 ticket holders will need to show proof of Covid-19 status upon entry, either in the form of both doses of vaccinations or a negative lateral flow test within 48 hours of attending.
They must also wear face coverings at venue grounds, but will not be required to wear masks and maintain social distancing while seated at the venue.
The event will resume with 50% stadium capacities for Centre Court and No. 1 Court, and 75% for the smaller show courts.
For the fourth round and quarterfinals, the AELTC said it aims to increase allocations for Centre Court, No. 1 Court, and grounds passes. Additionally, for the semifinals and finals, it aims to have 100% capacity on Centre Court and a small number of tickets on No.1 Court and ground passes.
‘A spotlight for tennis’
The total prize money for the tournament this year will be $49.4m (a little over £35m), with the men’s and women’s singles champions each receiving $2.38m (£1.7m).
The cut in prize funds represents a 5.2% decrease from 2019, when the men’s and women’s victors won $3.06 million (£2.35 million).
When settling prize money levels this year, the AELTC said it considered numerous factors including the investment required to provide quality accommodation with a full range of services and the need for a comprehensive testing program for players and their support teams.
“As in previous years, and particularly in this challenging year for tour players, the focus of distribution has been on supporting players in the early rounds of the tournament,” organizers said in a statement.
“We very much look forward to staging an event that is a success for all, inspires players and fans alike, and creates a spotlight for tennis, and sport, in the UK and around the world,” AELTC chairman Ian Hewitt added.