The Australian Open is likely to be postponed by 2 to 3 weeks, with the grand slam expected to commence at the start of February 2021.
Sources report that an announcement on the scheduling of the grand slam will come within the next 48 hours with discussions between Tennis Australia and the Victorian government now nearing a conclusion.
Central to those discussions are Victorian Premier Dan Andrews’ concerns that players arriving in Melbourne from overseas could pose a significant risk of bringing coronavirus into Victoria which could lead to another spike in COVID-19 cases.
“We’re working closely with Tennis Australia and they, in turn, are speaking with their global partners, media partner, sponsors, and when we have an announcement to make we’ll make it,” Andrews said in a press conference on Sunday.
With Victoria set to start welcoming international arrivals on December 7th, Tennis Australia were optimistic that they would be able to welcome players from mid-December, giving them enough time to complete a 14-day quarantine ahead of the tournament, originally scheduled to commence on 18th January 2021.
But those plans have been somewhat scuppered, with the Victorian government stating that they would block all players from arriving in Melbourne until the start of January.
“From the seventh of next month we can have flights returning to Melbourne and a hotel quarantining system will be reset and set up at that point and this is not a simple thing, to have many hundreds or indeed potentially well more than 1000 athletes and others who support them, (and the) media, being here for a very important event. It has to be done safely, it has to be done right.” Andrews stated.
With players now likely to arrive in January, increased pressure has been placed on the tournament’s scheduling meaning that the Australian Open will be pushed back by two to three weeks until the start of February to accommodate its Precursor events that are likely to take place in late January.
Rumor is that players are not allowed to enter Australia in December … pic.twitter.com/ttACHL9Yfq— Lukas Lacko (@lukilacko) November 17, 2020
A similar scenario occurred at this year’s French Open, where tournament directors chose to postpone the event twice to allow more time to ensure the major would operate in safe and secure conditions.
‘‘I am very confident we will have an Australian Open in the early part of next year. The exact timing of it, the exact arrangements we put in place, they are not settled yet,’’ Andrews Said.
We’re also expecting to hear an announcement on whether players will be allowed to train while they complete their quarantine.
Concerns have been expressed by a number of players including doubles world No.6, Bruno Soares, who claimed that it could be “physically very dangerous” if players are required to live in a room for 14-days and then go straight into a grand slam.
Tennis Australia are taking these concerns into consideration, understanding the physical impact it would have on these athletes if they are unable to train and participate in a warm-up event ahead of the grand slam.
“Our intention is to deliver a summer in conditions that allow the players to prepare and perform at their best and the fans to enjoy their efforts – all in an environment that is safe for all concerned,” Tournament Director Craig Tiley wrote in an announcement on Twitter earlier today.
“We are continuing our urgent talks with local health authorities regarding quarantining and bio-security requirements and are confident we will have decisions soon.”
Summer update: pic.twitter.com/qj5c9xXfMy— Craig Tiley (@CraigTiley) November 22, 2020
And it seems the players are still unsure of how the tournament will pan out, with Rafael Nadal stating after his loss to Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Finals on Saturday, “I don’t know what the situation is going to be.”
“We just need to be patient and accept the situation that we are facing. That (it) is difficult for everyone and we need to be flexible to understand the situation and find a way to play as many tournaments as possible next year.”
Although Nadal was hopeful that tennis would return to some normality in 2021 stating, “with the vaccine, that ends soon and we can come back at least close to normal in a couple of months, but now is a difficult situation.”
Information on tickets is set to come this week too. Make sure you head on over to our ticketing website at Tixel.com.au where you’ll find all the latest information on how to bag your tickets for the 2021 Australian Open.
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