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Why were Wimbledon, British Open canceled instead of postponed?

While other golf, tennis majors in U.S. were rescheduled, here's why the big ones in the United Kingdom weren't

A detailed view of a sign saying 'Our Lawns are resting this summer' outside The All England Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2020 in Wimbledon, England. Photo by Alex Davidson
A detailed view of a sign saying 'Our Lawns are resting this summer' outside The All England Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2020 in Wimbledon, England. Photo by Alex Davidson (Getty Images)

The past two weekends were supposed to feature the presentation of some of the most iconic trophies in sports, all in the United Kingdom.

Last weekend was supposed to be when tennis champions were crowned at Wimbledon, while this past weekend was supposed to be when the “Champion Golfer of the Year,” aka the winner of the British Open, was to be awarded the Claret Jug.

Of course, both were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it does lead to one question: Why were both events outright canceled and not simply postponed?

After all, in tennis, the U.S. Open will currently take place as scheduled in August/September and the French Open was delayed until late September/October, while in golf, the other three majors will take place at later dates (PGA Championship in August, the U.S. Open in September, The Masters in November).

There’s a two-pronged answer as to why Wimbledon and the British Open won’t take place in 2020: Insurance money and incredible foresight.

Both the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, which governs Wimbledon, and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, which governs the British Open, took out insurance policies in case something such as the COVID-19 pandemic happened, according to the website Agency Checklists.

In order to collect on those insurance policies, both governing bodies had to cancel their events by a certain date in the spring, which is why they both pulled the plug on their signature events in April.

Back in 2003 when the SARS public health crisis was in existence, the AELTC decided that Wimbledon should have an insurance policy that included a pandemic provision in it, which reportedly cost roughly $2 million over those 17 years.

For anybody laughing at why Wimbledon had such a provision -- just know that they weren’t laughing in April when the insurance policy reportedly paid out more than $177 million.

That still is roughly half the estimated $356 million in revenue the tournament generates each year, but that is obviously way better than nothing.

Just like the AELTC, the R&A had an insurance policy protecting against a global pandemic, and the British Open was reportedly “the most insured of all the tournaments,” according to Golf Digest.

Unlike Wimbledon, it is unclear what the insurance payout was for canceling the British Open.

It was the first time since 1945, when World War II was in its final stages, that Wimbledon and the British Open weren’t played in the same year.

But while it was a major disappointment to not see these iconic events take place in 2020, thanks to some brilliant foresight on insurance policies, their financial losses won’t be as bad.


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