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Tennis Australia’s Craig Tiley anticipates 2021 Australian Open will go ahead with fans in Melbourne
Tennis Australia Chief Executive Craig Tiley has revealed that he expects next year’s Australian Open will go ahead in Melbourne with up to 400,000 fans attending.
Despite numerous cancellations of sporting events around the world and uncertainty about events moving into 2021, Tiley, Tournament Director of the Australian Open, has suggested that that ‘bio-secure bubbles’ will be set up for players competing in next year’s event.
With a rise in COVID-19 cases in Melbourne prompting the Victorian Government to introduce a full lockdown in the city until next month, Tennis Australia is putting in place measures to ensure the Grand Slam can go ahead on time and as safely as possible.
However, with Victorian-based sports relocating to other states and a possibility that the AFL Grand Final will be staged in Brisbane, the NSW and Queensland Governments are suggesting that their states could host the Australian Open.
Tennis Australia Chief Executive Craig Tiley has revealed that bio-secure bubbles will be set up for players competing in next year’s Australian Open, which he hopes will go ahead with as many as 400,000 fans in January.
Nonetheless, Tiley is confident that the tournament, scheduled to run from 18th to 31st January, will go ahead telling the Reuters news agency that five bio-secure bubbles will be established in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne some six weeks before the tournament starts to ease the transition for overseas players.
Tiley told Reuters “when the players arrive, our expectation is they’re not going to be in a hotel for 14 days like the current requirements are.
“We’ll have an exemption within this bio-secure bubble.
“We’ve said every year that we’re the ‘happy slam’. But now we’re saying we’re the ‘very safe and happy slam.”
Tiley explained that a number of scenarios have been set up for staging the event, one of which would see the Australian Open go ahead in a similar way to the 2020 edition, while another option would see the tournament take place with limited crowds.
He added “scenario three was behind closed doors, a broadcast-only event.
“Scenario four was moving to another time of the year. And scenario five is no event at all.”
Tiley is hoping that as many as 400,000 fans will be able to attend the tournament - around half the amount that turned out for the 2020 edition - with an operational plan having been established to determine where spectators will be positioned around the 2.5 kilometres site.
Respond to the interest of other states, Tiley went on to say “I’m optimistic and positive that we’ll have an event and it’ll be in Melbourne.”
He also insisted that the $71 million prize fund would not be reduced despite the anticipated loss in revenue for the event.
Among major events, the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, originally scheduled to run from 23rd to 25th October at Victoria’s Phillip Island has been cancelled while 2020 Gran Slam events have been heavily impacted by Coronavirus.
Wimbledon has been cancelled, the French Open has been rescheduled to run from 20th September to 4th October and uncertainty surrounds the US Open - due to run from 31st August to 13th September - with leading players withdrawing from the event.
Images: Melbourne and Olympic Park, the hoist venue for the Australian Open (top) and Craig Tiley (below).
12th February 2020 - Melbourne and Olympic Parks set to showcase new convention centre at AIME 2020
4th February 2020 - Australian Open 2020 welcomes largest ever tournament crowds
2nd February 2020 - Australian Open showcases best of the nation for international tourists
28th January 2020 - Australian tennis great Margaret Court honoured at Australian Open
14th January 2020 - Melbourne’s poor air quality impacts Australian Open qualifier event
8th September 2019 - Tennis Australia and Ticketmaster agree partnership for tennis events
26th July 2019 - Tennis Australia to roll out new court surfaces across the nation
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