The Australian Open will only go ahead as planned in 2021 if players could be exempt from the 14-day strict hotel quarantines currently in place for inbound passengers, Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley has said.
Although tennis stars Roger Federer and Serena Williams have already committed to next year’s tournament, Tiley said players simply won’t show up if they can’t prepare properly.
“If a player has to quarantine and be stuck in a hotel for two weeks just before their season, that won’t happen,” Tiley told the Australian Associated Press, reports Xinhua news agency.
“You can’t ask players to quarantine for two weeks and then step out and be ready to play a grand slam,” he added.
He said he is counting on Australia’s state and federal governments to relax border restrictions and grant special approval for players to train in a bio-secure bubble, similar to approaches used in the US Open and French Open.
“So we’re working with all state governments. We completely accept that everyone coming from overseas has got to have two weeks in quarantine,” he said.
“What we are negotiating, or what we’re trying to have an agreement on, is that we set up a quarantine environment where they can train and go between the hotel and the courts in those two weeks.”
While admitting preparations for the Australian Open are “getting to crunch time”, Tiley said he remains confident the Australian Open will go ahead at Melbourne Park from January 18 to 23, along with lead-up events including the multi-city ATP Cup.
“We need commitments from the governments and the health officers. We need to kind of know in the next two weeks, maybe a month, that this is what can happen: borders are going to open and then we can have a multi-city event,” he said.
If borders aren’t re-opened, Tiley didn’t rule out the ATP Cup and other tournaments being held in Melbourne, just as the Cincinnati Open was staged at Flushing Meadows before the US Open.
“Anything is possible right now,” Tiley said. “Everything is still on the table.”