The full financial impact of the cancellation of Wimbledon will take “months” to confirm, the All England Club’s chief executive has revealed.
The Championships were called off for the first time since the Second World War yesterday because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Pandemic insurance in place since SARS in 2003 will cover the event which had a £254m turnover in the last accounts in 2018 and annually attracts around 500,000 fans.
Wimbledon profits then saw £40.8m given to the Lawn Tennis Association to support grasscourt tournaments and player performance.
“A lot of the hard work now starts,” said Lewis. “Of course we are fortunate to have insurance – it helps – but it doesn’t serve all the problems.
“There are a lot of details to work through. The insurance will help protect the surplus to an extent, I would say to a large extent. The details and the figure probably won’t be known for months. There is a recognition in the insurance policy that the surplus is part of our business.”
The All England Club wants to set up a “hardship fund” for lower ranked players who will miss out on earnings this summer. First-round losers banked £45,000 last year in a total prize fund of £38m.
“The problem with giving any kind of steer as to what the sport might be able to do is we don’t know how long this is going to go on for or the extent of the problem,” Lewis added.
There will now be no tennis worldwide until July 13 but the US Open, scheduled to start on August 29, is the next big event under threat.
The French Open has been pushed back until September.
“Let’s hope that the US Open and Roland Garros can take place,” Lewis said. “That would be good for everybody.
“Nobody would be more pleased than me because it would mean that things were returning to some kind of normality and the sport is off and running again. And I think that would be genuinely wonderful.”