Tennis Australia preparing for 2021 Australian Open with spectators from Australia and New Zealand only

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Craig Tiley said the Australian Open has drafted contingency plans due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Tennis Australia (TA) chief executive and Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said preparations are underway for next year’s grand slam to be held in Melbourne amid coronavirus concerns.

During the week, Tiley conceded the 2021 Australian Open could be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has wreaked havoc globally.

Both the ATP and WTA Tours are suspended until at least mid-July as a result of the coronavirus crisis – Wimbledon has already been cancelled for 2020, while the French Open has been pushed back to September amid uncertainty over the Roland Garros and US Open events.

Australia starting to relax lockdown measures

Speaking on Sunday, Tiley said the tournament has drafted contingency plans, though he is confident the Australian Open will be in a “positive position” come January.

“It’s very uncertain times as we all know well. We are preparing for multiple futures. We don’t know what January will bring,” Tiley told Channel Nine’s Wide World of Sports. “At this point today, we are preparing for an Australian Open, with finding a way to get our 500 internationals into Australia. At the same time, hopefully we have fans. Likely, at least it will be Australia-New Zealand fans in the first instance. Seven months is a long time away but we are planning for an Australian Open. We also have to plan for the scenario of players only and no crowds, and also the possibility of moving it or not having it at all. We are planning an Australian Open with all the players and with Australian, and likely, New Zealand crowds as a starting point. We’ll have some guidelines for social distancing.”

There have been more than four million confirmed cases across the world, with over 280,400 deaths.

In Australia, 97 people have succumbed to the virus as the country starts to relax lockdown measures.

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