The Australian Open will be postponed by three weeks and is set to commence on the 8th February 2021.
We are still waiting on an official confirmation on the guidelines that will be in place during the tournament, but it appears Tennis Australia CEO, Craig Tiley, has today written a letter to players advising them on tournament scheduling and the restrictions that will be in place.
Players are now set to arrive in Melbourne on chartered flights between the 15th and 17th of January.
Upon their arrival, players will go into a strict 14-day quarantine.
Discussions between Tennis Australia and the Victorian state government on the scheduling and organization of the tournament have been raging for some time, but now seem to be coming to a head.
“It’s taken a while, but the great news is it looks like we are going to be able to hold the AO on February 8,” Tiley wrote in the letter.
One big sticking point of the discussions was whether players would be able to train during quarantine, with multiple players expressing concerns that they wouldn’t be able to play in a grand slam tournament after sitting in a hotel room for 14-days straight.
We understand the Victorian government will allow players to train in practice groups of no more than 4, provided that they return a negative coronavirus test which will be performed on their arrival.Embed from Getty Images
Tennis Australia have also advised players that they will be allowed to leave their rooms for a maximum of 5 hours per day, with 2 hours of that time to be spent training on court, 2 hours in the gym, and 1 hour for meals.
These are set to be perhaps some of the most strict quarantine obligations we have seen this year after Victorian Premier Dan Andrews took a stern stance on the hosting of the tournament.
“Unlike every other tennis tournament that the men’s and women’s tours will play this year, only the Australian Open is a tennis tournament in a city where it can likely be assumed that those players will bring the virus here,” Andrews said last Wednesday.
There have been no new coronavirus cases in Victoria for just under a month and considering the effort and work the Victorian public has done to stamp out the spread of the virus, public safety has rightly been the main concern for the Victorian Premier.
“Just think about that for a moment – every other grand slam (is happening where) cases are running wild. Every other tournament – certainly those in the United States which is I think the lion’s share of the tournaments – cases are running wild.”
“So we are unique in that we’ve built something that no one else has built across the nation … and on that basis, we have to safeguard that, (and) I think we can.“
Safeguarding will mean players will be continually tested during their two-week quarantine and as before, will be required to return negative tests in order to continue to train.
These complex and necessary restrictions have made it a logical move for Tennis Australia to postpone the Australian Open by three weeks.
Tiley had originally suggested that the major down under would take place on the 1st of February, but with the Victorian government holding fast not to allow players into the country until the new year, it was only rational to stagger the tournament back by a couple of weeks to give players the best chance to prepare for the grand slam.
“A February 1 start date would not have allowed any matches and also would have been unfair to players who may get infected during quarantine – as it would’ve ruled them out of the AO,” Tiley stated in the letter to players.
Statement on Australian Open from Craig Tiley pic.twitter.com/Jq0UbooVbS— Michal Samulski (@MichalSamulski) December 1, 2020
There is no word on when or how the Australian Open’s precursor events will take place, but it is certain that Tennis Australia are set to lose a lot of cash in order to facilitate these quarantine requirements.
From putting players up in hotel rooms, arranging for tests to be carried out, and facilitating chartered flights for players and officials, Tiley expected that the governing body could spend over A$40 million on biosecurity operations.
“We also expect that we will use the majority of our reserves in maintaining funding to the sport and playing group,” Tiley said to The Australian newspaper, predicting that recovery from the pandemic “will take up to five years.”
We expect to hear an official confirmation on the arrangements soon, but remember if you’re looking for more information on tickets, make sure to head over to our partner website Tixel.com.au.
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