As Australia slowly rises from its battle with the pandemic, government officials are understandably cautious to ensure the country’s hard work to stamp out the virus does not go to waste.
On Sunday, Tennis Australia announced that they would be moving all Australian Open precursor events to Victoria.
But that announcement was met with some rebuttal from Victorian Premier Dan Andrews, who on Monday stated the plans for Victoria to host all precursor events to the Australian Open were “far from a done deal.”
“The notion that this is all tied up with a bow, it’s a done deal, that’s simply wrong,” Andrews asserted. “The public health team needs to sign off on all of these arrangements and they are just not settled.”
Tennis Australia have been faced with the difficult challenge of planning a summer of tennis during a pandemic.
While wanting to ensure the event goes ahead, they have also had to take into consideration overriding public health requirements in their plans to ensure the safety of the players and fans at the events.
After being failing to reach an agreement with Australian state governments that would allow players to travel across state borders to different events, they have opted to host the Australian Open’s precursor events in Victoria.
But Victorian Premier Andrews emphasized that no official decision had been made and that they were still a long way off an agreement on the details of the tournament.
“We want the event to happen, just like the Boxing Day Test, but the thing about the cricket compared to the tennis is it’s a tiny group of people [who] we think we can quarantine. It’s a massive event. It’s an event that all of us love … but it comes at a time when the rest of the world is on fire.”
Andrews reflected Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley’s previous concerns, that the challenge surrounds managing and keeping track of over 500 international tennis players and their entourages arriving in Australia this summer.
Tiley’s proposed plan is to set up several quarantine hubs, similar to those that have been seen in the AFL this year, that would host players and enable them to safely train and prepare for the summer of tennis.
It is with great sadness we announce #BrisbaneTennis will not be taking place in Queensland in 2021. All lead in events to the Australian Open will be held in Victoria to ensure all players can safely compete in, and prepare for, the Grand Slam. See you in 2022! pic.twitter.com/82PIoRS8Tb— #BrisbaneTennis (@BrisbaneTennis) November 15, 2020
“The notion this is all a done deal and there’s going to be all these tennis players turning up – no, this is not settled at all. It’s an important event, absolutely, but avoiding a third wave is arguably even more important. This needs to be done on the best of public health advice.”
And after Victoria stamped out the virus, recording no new coronavirus cases for 18 days in a row, it is understandable that a decision on the event will not be taken lightly.
“We just have to make sure that we’ve done all the preparatory work, and that we in that ultimate sense, the public health team, make a judgment that this can be done safely.”
“Those judgments have not been made, yet. We’re all working very hard to get to that point.”
“Anyone walking away from today’s paper, or from this press conference, hopefully, they’re not thinking that this is all just fixed; it is active, live, it is ongoing.”
Although it’s still likely that Australia’s exhibition events will still take place within Victoria, nothing is set in stone just yet.
“I have not noticed much of a doubt whether the tournaments will happen or not,” said world No.1 Novak Djokovic at the ATP Finals.Embed from Getty Images
Confirming that he had been in contact with Tiley and Tennis Australia, Djokovic spoke, “I hope that it will happen. I want to play in Australia – in the Australian Open… I’m hoping for the sake of tennis and sake of players that we will have the Australian Open and also possibly the ATP Cup and a couple more tournaments at least.”
But as Dan Andrews states, we are still a long way off having a final agreement on these events.
With the world’s best players set to descend on Australia in a month’s time, we expect to see an official announcement on all tournaments within the next couple of weeks.
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