Charter flights to ferry players to New York for the US Open are among options being considered by USTA officials to ensure the Grand Slam event happens in 2020.
There will be no spectators, but other plans include all players testing negative for COVID-19 before travelling, daily temperature checks, all players housed together, fewer on-court officials and no locker rooms.
“All of this is still fluid,” the US Tennis Association’s chief executive for professional tennis, Stacey Allaster said on Saturday. “We have made no decisions at all.”
Allaster said that if the USTA board does decide to go ahead, she expects it to be held at its usual New York site and in its usual spot on the calendar. The main draw is scheduled to start on August 31.
“We continue to be, I would say, 150 per cent focused on staging a safe environment for conducting a US Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on our dates,” she said.
“The idea of an alternative venue, an alternative date … we’ve got a responsibility to explore it, but it doesn’t have a lot of momentum.”
Allaster said an announcement is expected “mid-June to end of June.”
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to allow professional sports to resume, but has said it should be without fans.
“We are spending a lot of time and energy on all the models, including no fans on site,” Allaster said. “The government will help guide us.”
About 850,000 people attended the US Open in 2019.
Allaster went in to some detail on the issues the USTA face.
On scoring she said having best-of-three-set matches in men’s singles “has hardly been discussed”.
“If the players came to us and said, ‘That is something we want to do,’ we would consider it. But we will not make a unilateral decision on that without player input.”
On testing she was adamant all players would nee tom prove they were negative.
“There will be a combination of daily health questionnaires, daily temperature checks and … some nasal or saliva or antibody testing.”
Allaster said charter flights could be organised from Europe, South America and the Middle Eastto John F. Kennedy International Airport, which a tournament partner.
“A player coming with an entourage of five, six, seven, eight is not something that’s in the plan,” Allaster said.
Matches could use fewer line judges than usual, with more reliance on line-calling technology. “It’s a hard one,” Allaster said. “Obviously, we want to ensure that we have the highest level of integrity.”
And the current plan is to have ball personnel, “only adults, no kids”.