When professionals, workers and spectators enter the All England Club, the procedure is the same: First you have to queue. In England, queuing is surely enshrined in law somewhere; then your backpack or bag will be scanned like at the airport. That’s it. Nobody has to show their vaccination status anymore. Or a negative test. Nobody measures the temperature, as was the case in Grand Slam tournaments in the past two years. Nobody wears masks.
There is no one-stop shop at the All England Club itself for those who are unwell and want to check if they have contracted the coronavirus. In the pharmacy at Court No. 1 didn’t even have rapid tests. Where to find any? shrug. You can order some. Information on this can only be found hidden on the tournament’s homepage. They are under the “Staying Safe” category. It is said that the rules of the British government apply, which say that there are no more rules. Except: If you feel unwell, please stay at home.
That’s it. Corona is almost non-existent.
But it exists. It’s already there at the All England Club. Prominent tennis professionals have caught it. journalists. It is unclear whether and how many in total so far, because Wimbledon does not inform about positive cases. It was the top players Matteo Berrettini, Marin Cilic and Roberto Bautista Agut themselves who announced their findings and the withdrawal from the famous lawn classic. After all, the Italian is last year’s finalist. The Croatian was in the final in 2017. The Spaniard 2019 in the semifinals. Reporters who have sat shoulder to shoulder and nose to nose between positive cases for days are left in the dark about the possible health risk.
Andrea Petkovic says: “If I had something to say, I would reintroduce the mask indoors.”
When asked what the safety protocol, for which immense effort was still being made at many tennis locations around the world in 2020 and 2021, looks like – no answer. In the British media, too, the topic has been ignored. On Friday, 700 pages about England’s Katie Boulter, who defeated last year’s finalist Karolina Pliskova and then shed tears on Center Court. Her grandmother passed away two days ago. A touching story, yes. But also proof that the relations have shifted in early summer 2022.
“It’s like normal actually,” said Andrea Petkovic, the 34-year-old was eliminated in singles, in doubles she reached the second round. She revealed that she recently had Covid: “I caught it in Paris. Paris was the first tournament without a mask requirement. I wore a mask for the first few days, but nobody did it, and then I didn’t have it anymore either did.” She doesn’t see herself as an isolated case: “Now I’ve heard from thousands that they got it directly again.” Although she now feels “immune”, she also said: “If I had something to say, I would reintroduce the mask indoors.” The bad news for Petkovic: she has nothing to say. And apparently not 20-time Grand Slam winners either.
“A few months ago we still had such strict rules. And now, if a player has a positive corona test, he can theoretically decide for himself whether to play or not,” said Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, who was rightly surprised With security measures completely lifted, he concluded: “It doesn’t make sense to me so soon after what we’ve been through.” This view was all the more remarkable since Djokovic himself is not vaccinated and despite all the concern he has already expressed on the subject, he did not tend to be alarmed. His remarks drew no reaction from Wimbledon, which swarms with crowds every day, and another troubling allegation quickly faded.
The French player Alizé Cornet had in the sports newspaper The Team recently spoke of a “corona epidemic” at the French Open and a “non-disclosure agreement”: “Everyone in the dressing room had it and we didn’t say anything. When it comes out in the press, with big players, the air burns, and that I’m a little concerned.” It’s nice that the world is learning to live more relaxedly with the virus. But completely ignoring it like the Wimbledon tournament, which is considered a role model in the industry? This path could prove risky. The number of positive cases has long been increasing again, worldwide.
Rafael Nadal was even asked at Wimbledon – just because some of his team members wear masks – if there was paranoia. The 22-time Grand Slam winner answered calmly: Of course, normal life should and must return. Covid would no longer have such dangerous consequences in terms of serious health problems. But he avoids traveling a lot. Paranoia? “No, no, no,” said Nadal firmly. “Reality.” It’s always amazing how little many people, including here at Wimbledon, have learned from the past two years.