Australian Open for more audience attendance


Australian Open targets fan attendance Image: Melbourne and Olympic Parks

The Australian Open is targeting crowds of up to 50 per cent capacity for its 2021 Grand Slam edition at Melbourne Park (Australia) which can hold 10,500 onlookers. Australian Open 2021 will commence on January 18th, 2021.

The Australian Open is a tennis tournament held annually over the last fortnight of January at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia. The tournament is the first of the four Grand Slam tennis events held each year, preceding the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.

Melbourne Park is a sports venue in the Melbourne Sports and Entertainment Precinct in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Since 1988, Australia’s bicentenary, Melbourne Park has been home of the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament, which is played annually in January.

Tennis Australia (governing body for the sport of tennis in Australia) Chief Executive Craig Tiley said he is keeping fingers crossed on allowing between 2,625 and 5,250 tennis buffs into the tournament in January next year.

He confirmed that Swiss maestro Roger Federer and tennis great Serena Williams, who have committed to the event, will be required to complete two weeks quarantine in a bubble, before an extended six-week series of tournaments in the country.

This year’s US Open was held sans fans, while only 1,000 fans per day can grace the ongoing French Open.

However, Tiley said he is hopeful more fans will be allowed at Melbourne Park, as the venues will be classified as outdoor settings for boasting retractable roofs.

He told mediapersons, “We’ve worked out, with the requirements on physical distancing, we’ve still got to stay in certain parameters, and we’ve worked out what that can be in the arena.”

“We can have crowds from anywhere between 25 and 50 percent of what we’ve had before. It’s a very outdoor site. The size of the site and the way we can physically distance people, we’ll enjoy having quite a few crowds,” Tiley added.

Tiley further remarked that the Australian Open has “learnt a lot” from the running of the US Open sans crowds, and the French Open with small crowds.

If 50 percent crowd is allowed next year, tennis fans all over the globe have a reason to rejoice. Following a rollercoaster 2020 season, Grand Slams may be back in full gusto next year. After the Australian Open which concluded on February 2nd, no other Grand Slam this year has had a full house or a full roster of top guns.

The Wimbledon Championships this year were canceled as COVID-19 onslaught was on in full force. The US Open took place with no audience attendance and without men’s World No 2 Rafael Nadal and No 4 Roger Federer. In the women’s draw, both the top seeds, Ash Barty and Simona Halep pulled out, along with defending champion Bianca Andreescu and several other big names. French Open 2020 is also missing big names like Roger Federer, Nick Kyrgios, defending champion Ash Barty, Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu, thanks to the pandemic.

Tiley informed that he is in close coordination with the organizers and medical staff at the fixtures and at home in order to plan Australian Open 2021.

As per the top sports executive’s plan, the players will be expected to fly to the continent late in December 2020 where they will quarantine for 14 days in various cities. Tiley said that he hopes this will create a bubble within which the players can then travel to Melbourne Park. Incidentally, Melbourne is a part of the State of Victoria, which was under strict lockdown impositions after witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

It is expected that these restrictions will be reduced by next year. He also told mediapersons that the association hopes to stage over six weeks of tennis, with some smaller practise opportunities before the main Grand Slam.

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