While the Australian tennis summer kicks off in nearly COVID-free Melbourne, officials at the March MIami Masters are asking serious questions about the event’s 2021 edition.
With the pandemi well and truly on in the US, local tennis bosses have already decreed a downsizing of court facilities in a tournament which is played mainly in the parking lot of the Hard Rock stadium – a venue used for NFL games.
And doubts are currently being raised about the advisability of even allowing a limited number of fans to gather in the disease hothouse environment of South Florida.
The tournament has been marked on the provisional ATP calendar for a March 22 start; it’s “sister” Masters in Indian Wells has already been cancelled for a second consecutive year due to the virus crisis in southern California.
As it now stands, the major Miami stadium (65,000 capacity for gridiron, 14,000 for tennis) will not be used.
If minimal spectators are eventually allowed, daily attendance might hit the 3-5,000 mark – hardly enough to make it worthwhile in the eyes of accountants.
Matches would be played on temporary courts erected in the vast space of a venue located just off a motorway in a somewhat dodgy section of town north Miami.
Local reports indicate a decision on fans/no fans will be made further down the track.
There is also the new national law requiring a two-week quarantine for incoming travellers as well as the year-long ban on entry from the EU to deal with.