The start of the Australian Open will be delayed three weeks due to a coronavirus outbreak, a record released by the men’s tennis tour appeared Wednesday night.
The first Grand Slam of the year, which usually takes place in the last two weeks of January, has been rescheduled to the middle of two weeks in February. It will start on Feb. 8, according to the ATP schedule.
A person familiar with the ongoing talks between government officials and Tennis Australia, the tournament organizer, said the tennis group was awaiting final approval from the government before the plan was formally announced. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was not authorized to speak publicly about the status of the provision.
The move came after months of compromise as organizers tried to balance the needs of the players with government rules on international travel and the complex puzzle that is the tennis calendar.
The delay of the Australian Open was the latest in a controversy in a sport that has dealt with much of it since March, when professional tennis basically closed for five months.
Getting professional tennis back on its feet has been particularly challenging as the sport does not have a major governing body. Instead, the sport is run by a hodgepodge of international, national and local organizations. The uncertainty is likely to continue through the first quarter of the year or longer, until coronavirus vaccines are widely distributed in areas where major tennis events occur and the ebbs risk.
After the Australian Open 2020 was held as usual, the other three Grand Slam events were spent. Wimbledon was postponed for the first time since World War II. The United States Open began in New York at the end of August, as recorded, but without spectators, and most players stayed in a pair of Long Island hotels when not they competed at the tournament in Queens. The start of the French Open was moved to the end of September from the end of May. This happened in front of just spectators in a cool, warm setting.
It was hoped that Australia would be able to hold something similar to a normal Grand Slam in early 2021. Since the World Health Organization declared coronavirus an outbreak in March, Australia has taken some of the toughest measures in the world. put a world in action to prevent an outbreak. , and the country has been one of the few coronavirus success stories. Australia has averaged less than 10 new cases per day over the past week.
Despite these figures – or perhaps because of them – the government was opposed to bending its rules on overseas travelers to accommodate tennis players, scores of whom would come from places hot virus, including many communities in the United States and Europe.
An original plan included allowing players to arrive in mid-December, which would have given them two weeks to quarantine and then another two weeks to play and play in tunup tournaments on ahead of the Australian Open.
Tennis Australia had even come up with the idea that all the players would come together at a resort, so that they could work at the time of their capture.
But the government strongly opposed changing its strict limits on international reach in December. Also, it was not clear whether the plan would have allowed athletes out of their quarantine rooms. With that said, players had said that starting a Grand Slam event just four days after quarantine would leave would be impractical and potentially dangerous.
That led to the current plan, which requires all players and their fans to arrive on scheduled flights in mid-January, to stay in designated hotels there. in Melbourne and not to be confused with the public. Players will be able to train at Melbourne Park and another tennis center during quarantine, but otherwise have to follow a strict protocol and undergo multiple tests for their first 14 days in the country.
That change should come as a relief to players, many of whom may have avoided the competition instead of taking the risk of playing an intense event after two weeks without training.
Johanna Konta of Britain, who ranks 14th in the world ranking of women, told the BBC in November that “her body would not be able to handle two weeks of depression, and then push her. into the very end. “
Novak Djokovic, a Melbourne governing singles champion and eight-time Australian Open winner, said after a recent game in London that he hoped a certain level of understanding and support from the state and federal government would allow energy- actors play during their second week of quarantine.
Djokovic and his wife contracted the virus in June, after starting a series of tennis shows he organized in Serbia and Croatia. The rest of the series was postponed after several other players were positive.