‘Absolutely we should be having crowds at Wimbledon,’ says UK government official

There are ‘no guarantees’ that Wimbledon can be played in front of a sizable crowd this summer, says UK minister for sport Nigel Huddleston.

Britain is in the midst of a widespread vaccination programme, with over half the adult population already receiving at least one dose.

Whilst many other parts of Europe are tightening restrictions amid a third wave of COVID, the UK are currently working through a ‘roadmap’ to freedom, with optimism that all social restrictions could be lifted by 21 June – one week before Wimbledon is scheduled to start.

That means there is genuine optimism there can be at least a sizable crowd in the All England Club for The Championships’ return, but Huddleston says optimism is all it should be right now.

“If we can continue as we’re doing and proceed with the roadmap as planned, and as you’ve mentioned a couple of times this is a cautious but hopefully irreversible roadmap, then absolutely we should be having crowds,” Huddleston told LBC Radio.

“I can’t say how many, I can’t say under exactly what circumstances. We want to get back to full capacity as soon as possible, because actually that’s really important for the finances of the sector as well.

“We can open but unless we can open with large numbers we can’t open properly and therefore the entire sector is in jeopardy.

“Unless we can get the finances and the money flowing again, so we’re very aware of the importance of opening at as great a capacity as possible.

“But I’m afraid I can’t give any guarantees on the numbers yet, that’s why the pilot programmes and the overall next steps are so important.”

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