“Bio-secure bubbles” and spectators: The favoured scenario for the 2021 AO

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Australian Open director Craig Tiley remains confident about holding the 2021 edition at the planned dates and in Melbourne.

The Covid-19 pandemic forced the Australian government to establish a full lockdown after a new spike in cases. But the Australian Open organisers are confident they will be able to hold the Grand Slam at the usual dates and places in 2021.

400 000 spectators at the 2021 Australian Open?

Tournament director Craig Tiley explained to Reuters that the crisis management team handling this issue, after navigating through the bushfire smoke problem this year, envisioned five scenarios:

  • Same event than in 2020;
  • Limited crowds;
  • Behind closed-doors;
  • Moving to another date (March-April or September-October are options);
  • No event at all.

The second scenario is the favoured scenario for now. The Australian Open could welcome 400 000 fans at Melbourne Park over the course of the tournament. It’s half the number that attended the Grand Slam in 2020. All physical distancing measures will be applied and masks will be mandatory inside the complex. The ticket sales should open in October, according to Tiley.

Same prize-money as in 2020

As for the players, Tiley explained that five “bio-secure bubbles”, in five different cities (Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne), will be opened as soon as December 1st. “When the players arrive, our expectation is they’re not going to be in a hotel for 14 days like the current requirements are, assured Tiley. 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.'”

Even though Tennis Australia anticipates a double-digit percentage decrease in revenues, Tiley said that the global prize-money will remain the same than in 2020. A way to show that the organisers are looking for some kind of normalcy during this 2021 edition.

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