The 2021 Australian Open could be moved to later in the year if the COVID-19 pandemic is not brought under control.
Tournament director Craig Tiley said today he was confident the event would go ahead in January as planned, but added there was a plan to move it to another city if Melbourne was still in the grips of the pandemic.
The first scenario of the event’s crisis management team is the event being held as much as in past years. The second is a tournament with limited crowds, Tiley said.
“Scenario three is behind closed doors, a broadcast-only event. Scenario four is moving to another time of the year.”
“And scenario five is no event at all.”
Organisers are confident of hosting the event in January with full prizemoney and fans in the stands.
But Tiley said a business and operational plan has been put in place for every possible scenario.
The city of Melbourne is in the middle of a six-week lockdown after a second spike in COVID-19 cases recently.
Ticket sales will start in October and five “bio-secure bubbles” will be opened across the country six weeks before the event starts to allow arriving players to avoid restrictive quarantine measures.
“We’re going to open our bio-bubble from the first of December and players can come at any time,” Tiley said.
“When the players arrive, our expectation is they’re not going to be in a hotel for 14 days like the current requirements are. 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.'”
Tiley said organisers had employed a “global expert” to help set up the bio-security bubbles and testing facilities in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne, which will allow players to acclimatise and train for the grand slam.
Tiley added he was confident of being able to welcome fans to Melbourne Park in 2021.
“We’ve established a strategy and an operational plan for all our fans and how they will be positioned around the site,” he said.