Victoria Premier refuses to commit to Australian Open in January

There is doubt surrounding whether the first Grand Slam of the year will take place in its usual January slot due to quarantine and travel restrictions in Australia.

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State premier Daniel Andrews has refused to commit to Victoria hosting the Australian Open in January – saying simply that it will be held “early next year”.

The first Grand Slam of 2021 is scheduled to take place at the end of January (18-31), but the global pandemic means there are currently question-marks over it. Australia’s individual states have devised their own regulations (courtesy of The Guardian).

International flights are still not landing in Melbourne, and when they recommence, on December 7th, arrivals will need to go through a two-week period of quarantine.

Players and their teams were expecting to go through that process – but it seems that the state government is not yet happy that all the arrangements are in place to allow the visits of quite so many people.

“Australian Open in the early part of next year”

“From the seventh of next month [December] 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 – media – being here for a very important event,” Andrews is quoted as saying. “It has to be done safely, it has to be done right.

‘‘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.’’

Usual January events on the Tour calendar have already been postponed, including the ASB Classic in Auckland.

Organisers Tennis Australia had suggested that the Australian Open and the lead-up events could all take place in Melbourne, and that players might be able to arrive in Melbourne in early December and live in biosecure “controlled bubble” environments, travelling just between hotels and the court, very likely what happened in New York for the US Open and this week in London for the ATP Finals.

The junior tournament has already been postponed due to the restrictions in place.

The official Australian Open website has little information about the negotiations, with the most recent news release on November 17 detailing the tournament’s link-up with official outfitter Ralph Lauren.

Local media in Australia are now speculating that the Slam could move to March or April, prior to the hardcourt swing in the USA.

Tennis Australia, however, has dismissed the idea, calling it “pure speculation”.

Australia has been one of the most successful countries when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus, due to their strong lockdown measures and limits on travel. A total of 17 cases have been reported in the country for the last 24 hours. 907 people have died of COVID in Australia since the virus was detected there 11 months ago.

 

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