Australian Open officials were Wednesday digging their way out of a potential crisis after reports that TD Craig Tiley had admitted the major could be cancelled amid COVID-19 quarantine squabbling.
Australian media reported that Tiley uttered the “C” word in a private meeting in Melbourne on Tuesday.
But the tournament, which is facing serious blowback from mainly ATP players on proposals to limit training time during a mandatory 14-day hotel-room lockdown, quickly tried to dispel any frightening worst-case scenarios.
“We are also in constant communication with the global tennis community, including the tours, the players and their teams, as we consult with them on plans for the event and how players can safely practice and prepare for a grand slam tournament under the Victorian government’s proposed quarantine conditions,” Tiley said in a statement.
“Understandably there has been public speculation on the various plans under consideration as well as the many confidential conversations that have taken place and our position remains clear – everything will require approval and agreement from the Victorian government before it can be confirmed.
“The protection and safety of the community remains paramount in the discussions.”
With the Open now almost certain to begin three weeks late on February 8, several fresh complications have arisen.
With time out of the hotel room during quarantine limited to only five hours daily, players are far from satisfied, with fitness preparation concerns the main worry as a best-of-five-set Grand Slam looms,
In addition, it appears that the ATP Player Council will have to approve the one-off lockdown scenario.
Negotiations with the unbending Victoria State government have been dragging on with no definitive word forthcoming as the countdown clock ticks dangerously close to the 2021 season..
Reports indicate that players may have to be flown to Australia in chartered aircraft from Europe, the US and the Gulf to quarantine given the lack of available flights to the locked-down island-continent, which appears to have broken the back of COVID by banning any and all foreign travel inbound or outbound.