USTA’s Allaster: Moving US Open site or dates “doesn’t have a lot of momentum”
US Open organisers say they are still planning to stage this year’s event at Flushing Meadows and in its existing slot, from August 31 to September 13, saying talk of moving dates or sites have “doesn’t have a lot of momentum”.
If the US Open happens this year, it’s almost certain it will happen at Flushing Meadows, and from August 31 to September 13, as planned.
While rumours had suggested that the traditional final Grand Slam of the year could move to Indian Wells or Florida because of level of the Coronavirus pandemic in New York, organisers are focusing only on securing a safe US Open on the existing dates and in the same place as usual. They will make a final decision on the staging of the 2020 event in the second half of June.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Stacey Allaster, the US Tennis Association (USTA)’s chief executive for professional tennis said all options were still on the table, including playing behind closed doors, chartering flights for players with smaller entourages, keeping players out of locker rooms on their off-days and temperature checks.
Allaster said that though no decisions have been made, if the US Open does happen, it is most likely to be in its existing slot and place.
“We continue to be, I would say, 150 percent focused on staging a safe environment for conducting a US Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on our dates,” she told AP. “The idea of an alternative venue, an alternative date… we’ve got a responsibility to explore it, but it doesn’t have a lot of momentum.”
Players will have to have proof of a negative test for Covid-19 before being allowed on site, Allaster said.
“Once they come into our, let’s say, ‘US Open world,'” Allaster said, “there will be a combination of daily health questionnaires, daily temperature checks and … some nasal or saliva or antibody testing. We are spending a lot of time and energy on all the models, including no fans on site. The government will help guide us.”
Lew Sherr, the USTA’s chief revenue officer, told AP that even with no fans, it would be financially worthwhile to hold the event. Allaster said the US Open would not make any changes to the playing format without first discussing them with players.
The ATP, WTA and ITF have suspended all their events to July 31. Roland-Garros is planning to stage this year’s event from either September 20 or September 27, having moved it from its traditional May-June dates. Wimbledon has already cancelled this year’s Championships.