Australian Open could be CANCELLED as tennis authorities prepare for a ‘worst-case scenario’ due to the coronavirus pandemic
- TA chief and Open director Craig Tiley said the tournament will be compromised
- He also said the best case scenario was to quarantine with Australian-only fans
- It’s yet to be revealed which of Australia’s elite professionals will take part
- Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19
A new domestic teams’ event could be up and running within a month as Tennis Australia stares down the prospect of the unthinkable – no 2021 Australian Open.
TA chief and Open director Craig Tiley concedes the annual summer of tennis ‘will be compromised’ as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
‘Worst-case scenario is no AO (Australian Open),’ Tiley told AAP.
‘Our best-case scenario at this point is having an AO with players that we can get in here with quarantining techniques and Australian-only fans.’
The fortnight-long Australian Open is the largest event on the national sporting calendar and globally the biggest January money spinner in all sport, even topping the Super Bowl.
So it’s no surprise TA is moving heaven and earth not to lose it next year – as well as feeling fortunate to have been one of the few major international sporting events to have even been staged in 2020 before the world moved into a coronavirus lockdown.
Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley and Maria Sharapova at the 2020 Australian Open, before the world moved into lockdown for COVID-19
Resigned to the ATP and WTA tours likely being suspended for the rest of the 2020 season due to international travel restrictions, Tiley said TA had devised a series of extensive contingency plans in the hope of saving next year’s Open.
‘There’s four scenarios and we’ve modelled everything,’ he said.
‘We’ve modelled the times we have to make decisions, dates we have to make decisions, who it impacts, how it’s going to impact them.
‘We’ve done that for 670 staff. We’ve done that for all of our partners – our media partners, our sponsors and for all the governments and places we rent facilities (from).
‘And now we’re working on the international playing group and getting them to understand what each of those scenarios are and what it means for them and how we can action it.’
The world will be watching as biosecurity experts reveal what measures they will employ to deal with a likely staggered lifting of travel restrictions.
Tennis Australia is set to unveil plans for a domestic Pro Series for leading Australian players to potentially be played across the country. Pictured: Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios playing at the 2020 tournament
It’s yet to be revealed which of Australia’s elite professionals will take part, including world No.1 Ashleigh Barty (pictured) or dual grand slam quarter-finalist Nick Kyrgios
As will Tennis Australia, who are set to unveil plans for a domestic Pro Series for leading Australian players to potentially be played across the country, depending on state border restrictions.
It’s yet to be revealed which of Australia’s elite professionals will take part, including world No.1 Ashleigh Barty or dual grand slam quarter-finalist Nick Kyrgios.
Stranded Spain-based Aussie men’s No.1 Alex de Minaur will almost surely be unavailable, as will fellow young gun Alexei Popyrin, who is holed up in France.
But Davis Cup star and 2018 US Open quarter-finalist John Millman, who led the calls for a domestic competition in the event of Australia emerging from the coronaviris crisis earlier than other countries, is sure to be among the leading drawcards.