With a COVID-19 outbreak putting Melbourne into at least six weeks of further lockdown, the top Australian Open official was putting a bright spin Thursday on chances that the first major of 2021 will be held as planned in January.
“We’re absolutely convinced we’re going to get on top of this virus and infection rate. It’s just unfortunate what’s happening here in our state but we’ll get through it,” TD Craig Tiley told the 7Network. .
“Hopefully the other states keep it down low. We’ve got great events planned for every single state in the ATP Cup and the women’s events and the great event here in Melbourne.
“There’s absolutely no intention to change that sequence and that calendar.”
In addition to the Open, the country also hosts the January ATP Cup, which debuted this year and comprised matches in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.
Voices suggesting that the Grand Slam be moved from Melbourne due to the virus outbreak are falling on deaf ears at Tennis Australia: “We’re happy being in Melbourne,” Tiley said.
He added that with no scheduled Tour tennis during the December, the month could be used to quarantine players who would be expected to arrive from around the world in a venue which until last month had the virus well under control.
“The positive news is Australia, in the months of December and January, will be a bubble for international tennis players,” Tiley said.
“We have a long lead-up and there’s no tennis in December so that’s where the players can come here and acclimatise. That can now become a quarantine time as well.”
With this month’s start of the US Open still open to some doubt due to unchecked COVID, Tiley remains convinced that Australia will find a safe way to play in five months.
““You’ll get tested once every two, three or four days, we’ll have antibody tests as well. If your test comes back positive you’ll go into quarantine immediately, get isolated.”
The event is looking to put a cap on local-only spectators in a country where international travel remains all but locked down.
With the decision due in around three months, hopes remain for an overall 50 per cent spectator capacity around the grounds of Melbourne Park, 400,000 fans.