With Melbourne currently fighting a second wave of COVID-19, the battle to keep the 2021 Australian Open in the city has kicked off, according to TD Craig Tiley.
With voices starting to suggest that the opening Grand Slam of next season might have to be moved to another venue due to the virus outbreak, that plan is a non-starter for Tiley, who told Melbourne’s Age:
“It hasn’t even crossed my mind,”.
“Heaven and earth will be moved to make it work in Melbourne. I don’t see any scenario possible where the Australian Open would move,” the South African administrator said.
The Victorian capital in recent weeks has morphed into a national hotspot, with more than 3,000 new cases detected – mainly in outlying suburbs and concentrated in public housing – according to local media.
All travel to the island-continent has been shut down for months with no reopening plans announced. Prior to the new flare-up, Australia looked to have the virus under control nationwide.
The popular major is now facing the cosh, though, if the outbreak is not contained, with bitter Aussie rival Sydney more than happy to steal away the upcoming edition, set to begin in just over half a year.
In addition, there would also be a massive logistical challenge for the multi-city run-up event, the ATP Cup, which made a debut last January in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane.
Tiley insists that the Open would be run under top-flight health conditions.
“Melbourne Park itself is a massive quarantine opportunity for us. The whole network and the whole hub being put next to the city, you can actually create a bubble over Melbourne Park to make it extremely safe.
“It will be world-leading.”
Tennis is currently facing more immediate problems. with next month’s Tour re-starts in the US compromised by an out-of-control virus situation.