Wimbledon has been cancelled for the first time since the Second World War, as the number of Covid-19 deaths in the United Kingdom soars.

With 563 more deaths - and 4324 new cases - Britain has recorded its highest toll in a 24-hour period. The dramatic spike sees the number of total deaths reach 2352 with almost 30,000 known to be infected, as debate rages on the country's testing programme.

After an emergency meeting on Thursday (NZT) between the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) and relevant stakeholders, the inevitable decision was made to cancel the grass court Grand Slam which was scheduled to start on June 29.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, organisers had already ruled out playing in front of empty stands or attempting to take advantage of the postponed Olympic Games by shifting the tournament.

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A sign outside one of the main gates to Wimbledon as it is announced the the Wimbledon tennis Championships for 2020 has been cancelled due to the coronavirus. Photo / AP
A sign outside one of the main gates to Wimbledon as it is announced the the Wimbledon tennis Championships for 2020 has been cancelled due to the coronavirus. Photo / AP

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Ian Hewitt, AELTC chairman, said the decision to cancel Wimbledon for the first time in 75 years was not taken lightly.

"We have done so with the highest regard for public health and the wellbeing of all those who come together to make Wimbledon happen.

"It has weighed heavily on our minds that the staging of The Championships has only been interrupted previously by World Wars but, following thorough and extensive consideration of all scenarios, we believe that it is a measure of this global crisis that it is ultimately the right decision to cancel this year's Championships, and instead concentrate on how we can use the breadth of Wimbledon's resources to help those in our local communities and beyond.

"Our thoughts are with all those who have been and continue to be affected by these unprecedented times."

A statement on the Wimbledon website said: "It is with great regret that the Main Board of the All England Club (AELTC) and the Committee of Management of The Championships have today decided that The Championships 2020 will be cancelled due to public health concerns linked to the coronavirus epidemic. The 134th Championships will instead be staged from 28 June to 11 July 2021.

"Uppermost in our mind has been the health and safety of all of those who come together to make Wimbledon happen – the public in the UK and visitors from around the world, our players, guests, members, staff, volunteers, partners, contractors, and local residents – as well as our broader responsibility to society's efforts to tackle this global challenge to our way of life."

The French Open has been moved from May to September, a decision that has caused outrage given the lack of communication with players from the French Tennis Federation.

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As it stands, the US Open remains scheduled for August 24.