Australian Open TD Craig Tiley is declaring a victory of sorts with his pronouncement that the COVID-delayed major is expecting to allow 50 percent of the normal audience through the gates.
Tiley and Tennis Australia have been debating/negotiating/pleading for months to try and get the major off the ground inside a locked-down continent. With every concession a battle against final arbiter the Victoria State government, the boss appears to be glad for small blessings.
If the figure holds in in a constantly changing virus situation, it would mean ticket sales totalling approximately 400,000.
“We’re hoping to accommodate at least 50% of the audience we usually have here,” Tiley said.
This figure would represent around 400,000 people over two weeks; ticket sales are due to begin on Wednesday, two days prior to Christmas.
Tiley’s statement on the February 8-21 Open was the first official confirmation of the new tournament dates for a major which will be delayed by three weeks and which will unleash a wrecking ball on the spring ATP and WTA calendars.
“It has taken eight months of working alongside government authorities to give us the opportunity to present an Australian Open that will play a major role in both the economic and psychological reinvigoration and rejuvenation of Melbourne and Victoria,” Tiley said,
“AO 2021 is going to be all about supporting local businesses – our tennis coaches, the farmers, food and wine producers, chefs, artists and musicians – and celebrating everything that is great about our country, as well as providing opportunities to those who’ve been so hard hit during the pandemic, particularly in Melbourne and Victoria.”
Despite bracing for a multimilion-dollar bath due to costly COVID precautions, charter flights for players and quarantine costs for up to 1,000 – a handy government bailout has been promised – prize money will remain the same as last January.
The payouts will be the same as in 2020 at AUD 71.5 million (USD 54.5 million) with a 15 per cent increase for first round losers (AUD 100,000, USD 76,000).