Final decision on the fan-no fan dilemma facing January’s Australian Open looks like becoming a high-profile tug-of-war between government and tennis suits.
Melbourne’s Age revealed that Victorian state premier Daniel Andrews seems determined that elected officials will have the last word for the Grand Slam which is seriously debating whether a limited number of fans can attend due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.
All of Australia is cut off from the outside world, with limited flights incoming and outgoing and official permission needed to pass through airport borders.
The controversial politician said it is “too early” to know if the major will have to be played, US Open-style behind closed doors.
Current regulations prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people in the virus-hotspot metropolis, which has been under several weeks of strict and contested lockdown.
The limit of 50 will stay in place until the city has seen 28 straight days of no active virus cases, with a near-similar situation also required in the other Aussie states.
“It’s too early for us to be able to determine whether they will have crowds,” Andrews said of both the Open and the December 26 Boxing Day cricket test.
“It’s too early for us then also to determine how big any crowd might be. That’s certainly our aim,” he told the Age.
“We just have to work through each of those event by event, venue by venue – that isn’t finished yet.
“it’s really hard for us to predict where virus numbers will be, and what risks do we have to deal with in just a few weeks’ time let alone months.”
Whatever the case, players and others form overseas would be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival,
“It’s not going to be an ordinary summer from that point of view, but we’ll get as many people as we can get there, provided it’s safe.
“The Australian Open tennis is a big feature of every summer, it’s a really big event for us, but we don’t want one event to necessarily set us back and cause us a problem.”