After months of ongoing discussions, The Mercury reported on Sunday evening that all 2021 Australian tennis tournaments including the ATP Cup, will now take place in Melbourne ahead of next January’s Australian Open.
Tennis Australia had originally sought an arrangement with Australian state governments that would see players follow consistent quarantine rules and would allow players to move between states to play in each event.
But it appears the decision has been made to host all tournaments in Victoria after concerns still prevail over whether Australia’s internal borders will open and remain open in time for the start of the summer of tennis.
“It’s not the fault of anyone, but each state had a bit of a different approach to it so it was hard to have some consistency,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
“The biggest thing outside of that was our fear or concern that we still have borders that are closed. In Melbourne we still can’t go to Brisbane and while the governments say they will open, it doesn’t mean they won’t close them again. So we made the decision to contract everything in Melbourne, redesign the lead-in events to the Australian Open.”
“We are now backing one horse and that is Victoria because this is where the Australian Open is.”
The Hobart, Brisbane, and Adelaide International tennis tournaments will now all take place in Melbourne, with tournament schedules expected to be confirmed over the coming weeks.
The decision constitutes a huge blow for both Adelaide and Tasmania, who will now lose out on the biggest sporting events in their calendar year.
After the inaugural Adelaide International event was held in 2020, South Australia representatives were “keen as mustard” to host the event again in 2021, but will now have to wait another year before they can see the event return.
Tiley stated that a decision had to be made and was down to states being unable to guarantee quarantine arrangements or make a “commitment of open travel between cities.”
But it is ultimately good news as Tiley stated, “there is now no risk of the Australian Open going ahead without everyone in Victoria and we didn’t have that guarantee previously.”
Players are now expected to travel to Melbourne this December and are likely to quarantine for 14 days in a hub environment, similar to the arrangements we saw in the AFL this season, where players will be able to train and prepare for the Australian Open and it’s precursor tournaments.
Although compared to the AFL, Tennis Australia faces a slightly different task of having to keep track of over 500 international players and their entourage while they quarantine.
“We have a very different construct to the AFL and cricket because we are bringing in a lot of international people and their entourage so we’ve got to ensure they stay on a very rigid, tough lockdown.”
Perhaps making the decision to house all players in one state will give Tennis Australia better control over player movements and provide a safer environment for all those in attendance, as Australia slowly recovers from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
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