All England Tennis Club groundsman says turnaround between Wimbledon and Olympics a major challenge

All England Tennis Club head groundsman Eddie Seaward has said the 18 days he will have between the end of the annual Wimbledon tennis championships and the start of the competitive Olympic matches at the courts in 2012 are likely to be "mayhem".

The iconic two-week tournament will finish on Sunday 8 July and Olympic organisers will move in two days later, with practice play beginning on 16 July. "That leaves virtually no time to do anything with the courts but I have to guarantee they will be pristine," Seaward told the audience at a Scott's-run seminar at Wimbledon on 18 November.

"A lot of people will be setting up and breaking down in that time," he explained. Cabling is to be relaid and the umpires' chairs will be rewired. The famous green court canvasses also have to be changed to Olympic blue and all on-site clocks will be changed from championship sponsor Rolex to the Olympic sponsor Omega.

"The courts themselves will be the easy part," said Seaward. "We will start on the outside courts before the end of the championships, pre-germinating some seed for over-sowing."

Security will be tight throughout, he explained, with a perimeter fence and airport-style security checks imposed for staff as well as visitors. Surrounding roads will also be closed for the event, with no access for cars.

"I had to battle for staff parking," he said. "EU law states that we have give our staff three days off over the interim period. I will need more staff and am trying to recruit people who have worked here before.

"We knew it would be like this when we put in the bid. There is still a lot to sort out, such as where the podium will go, and not a lot of time to do it in - we have two championships to run first."


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