WIMBLEDON LAUDED FOR SHARING PAYOUTS

Wimbledon was hailed as a “class act” on Friday after the tournament agreed to award £10 million (S$17.6 million) in prize money to the 620 players who would have taken part had it not been cancelled.

The All England Club said that based on world rankings, 224 players who would have competed in qualifying will each receive £12,500, while the 256 players who would have featured in main draw singles will get £25,000.

In doubles, it will be £6,250; for wheelchair events, the sum would be £6,000 per player, with £5,000 for quad wheelchair competitors.

“Amazing news – always a class act and leader of our sport. Well done @Wimbledon – can’t wait to be back next year,” tweeted former world No. 1 and four-time Grand Slam singles winner Kim Clijsters.

The championships, which should have staged the finals this weekend, were cancelled in April for the first time since World War II due to the coronavirus crisis.

“We know these months of uncertainty have been very worrying for the players, many of whom have faced financial difficulty during this period and who would have quite rightly anticipated the opportunity to earn prize money at Wimbledon, based on their world ranking,” said All England Club chief executive Richard Lewis.

“We are pleased that our insurance policy has allowed us to recognise the impact of the cancellation on the players and that we are now in a position to offer this payment as a reward for the hard work they have invested in building their ranking to a point where they would have gained direct entry into The Championships 2020.”

Wimbledon will reportedly receive over US$140 million (S$194.7 million) in insurance payouts due to the cancellation.

The organisers will also distribute money to officials and some international umpires.

“Just when you thought you couldn’t love @Wimbledon any more,” tweeted Britain’s Marcus Willis, who famously reached the second round in 2016, where he lost to Roger Federer.

Willis was ranked 772 in the world at the time, having played six rounds of qualifying.

His £50,000 prize money doubled his entire career earnings.

Meanwhile, the men’s singles seedings will revert to the world rankings at next year’s edition, after almost two decades of being based on grass-court form.

Next year’s tournament will run from June 28 to July 11.

Separately, the table tennis world team championships have been delayed to early next year amid lingering concerns about the pandemic across the world, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) announced yesterday.

After deliberations with key stakeholders, the ITTF executive committee concluded that the 2020 World Team Table Tennis Championships in Busan, South Korea, will be staged from Feb 28 to March 7, 2021.

The event were originally scheduled from March 22-29, but they were postponed to June 21-28 and once again to Sept 27-Oct 4.

The executive committee noted that due to a decreasing probability of international events being staged this year, the ITTF will therefore attempt to stage “bubble” or regionally based events during the remainder of the 2020 calendar.

-AFP/Xinhua