It’s Wednesday in Australia. And with that, a little more clarity about the start of the 2021 tennis season. But only a little
According to a report by the Australian Associated Press, the Australian Open will go ahead.
But it won’t start on time.
How long will the delay be?
Maybe a week or two. But maybe longer.
Tennis Australia, the ATP and the WTA are in negotiations with the governments about how to hold the first Grand Slam of the season in unique circumstances.
The country, particularly host city Melbourne and the state of Victoria where it hit the worst, have just beaten back the COVID-19 virus after putting the state’s population in heavy lockdown.
Hard work to push back virus
Having 1,000 -1,500 people coming into the city from all over the world, when travel into Victoria has been shut down for so long, obviously brings its share of risks.
The border with Queensland (Brisbane), which has been shut for months, will finally re-open Dec. 1.
Martin Pakula, The state’s Sports and Tourism minister, said there “were a number of potential dates on the table.”
“I think that’s still most likely. But it’s not the only option. As you know, the French Open was delayed by many months and Wimbledon didn’t occur at all,” Pakula told AAP. “I still think it’s much more likely that it will be a shorter rather than longer delay.”
The headline in an ABC news report pegs the delay at a week, but hedges its bets.
Premier: “the rest of the world is on fire”
Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told the morning show on the Australian Open’s former TV home, Channel 7, that keeping the virus at bay was the top consideration.
“The rest of the world is on fire, so there will be quarantine for anyone coming to our city or state. You’ve got 250,000 cases a day in the United States, Europe is not much better, many parts of Asia are really struggling,” Andres said. “As important as a tennis tournament is, we’re not going to jeopardize our coronavirus status by anything other than the highest standards.”
Quarantine conditions still up in the air
Pakula said that quarantine, in whatever form, will still be a requirement. But he wouldn’t be drawn into what that will look like. Only to say that he thought they “can be very close to a conclusion.”
“You can speculate until the cows come home about exactly what quarantine requirements will be in place. It’s not particularly helpful,” Pakula said. “The quarantine requirements will be those that are ultimately agreed with the public health and then it will be a matter for the ATP and the WTA about whether or not they are acceptable.”
ABC news says that the players were encouraged to travel light. But again, nothing in concrete.
“It’s fair to say that Tennis Australia and the playing group have been encouraged to keep the total number of people coming in, not necessarily to a minimum, but to a lower number than would otherwise be the case,” ABC reports Pakula said.
When the players are allowed to arrive, how they’re allowed to quarantine and if they are allowed to train will obviously determine how many tournaments may take place during the Australian summer.
Especially the crucial ones before the main event, which the players need to get match play.