Venue capacity 25 percent for Australian Open


Australian Open update 25 per cent capacity Image: ATP

Event organizer Tennis Australia has revealed that it plans to fill stadia to 25 percent capacity for the 2021 Australian Open and tickets have gone on sale for the same.

Tennis Australia is the governing body for the sport of tennis in Australia. The organization exists to promote tennis and to conduct domestic and international tournaments on behalf of Australia, including the Australian Open and the Davis Cup for the Australian Davis Cup team.

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.

The first tennis Grand Slam of 2021 has also made provisions to divide the grounds of its Melbourne Park facility into three zones, each including one of the venue’s three major arenas, to ensure the safety of fans onsite keeping in mind the grim health situation COVID-19 has once again created worldwide.

The three zones will revolve around the Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena and John Cain Arena with each area providing retail, culinary, and fan engagement experiences to try to replicate the customer experience of having a ground pass at a more typical event.

The organizers informed that they have either frozen or reduced ticket prices this year to reflect the different offerings.

Tickets will be sold in family ‘pods’ of between one and six tickets to assist with physical distancing and the whole ticketing process will be a digital affair to increase the hygiene quotient on site and aid with contact tracing.

Tennis Australia will also introduce staggered match times to prevent too many fans from congregating at arena ingress points all at once. Matches at the Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas will start at 11.00 am, while matches on the John Cain Arena will start at 12:00 pm.

Stated Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley, “Although our event will look a little different as we prioritize the safety of everyone, it’s going to be a fantastic opportunity to come together and experience many of the best things about Melbourne – live, world class sport in an exciting festival atmosphere.”

Tiley added, “We look forward to welcoming the world’s best players to Melbourne Park. I know they can’t wait to compete in front of crowds again and are prepared for the strict quarantine process when they arrive, all of which is a key element of ensuring everyone’s safety.”

This year’s Australian Open has already been pushed back to February 8th due to coronavirus still causing catastrophic consequences globally.

The tournament was permitted to go ahead provided players follow the stringent rules laid down by the Department of Health and Human Services in the State of Victoria. The tournament usually takes place from January 18th-31st.

Players will be expected to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in Australia from January 15th. They will be able to train during this 14-day period, but only after testing negative to Covid-19 on the second day of isolation. Testing for the virus will take place in each player’s hotel room on days one, three, seven, 10, and 14.

Players will be permitted to go out of their hotel rooms for a maximum of five hours each day: Two hours on court, two hours in the gym and one hour to eat on site, with all travel outside of the hotels limited to Melbourne Park and the Albert Reserve Tennis Centre.

Tennis Australia has announced it will pay for charter flights, player and entourage quarantine costs, meals and accommodation.

To be able to cover these expenses, the organizer warned that it will need to draw on its A$80m (€48.8m/$59m) cash reserves to stage the event.

Speaking in early December, Tilley predicted the additional quarantine biosecurity measures which will be adopted will cost Tennis Australia A$40m overall.

Earlier in the year, the organizers had hoped that the tournament could go ahead with 50 percent capacity venues, on the basis that retractable arena roofs could be opened at Melbourne Park to classify it as an outdoor setting. But Tilley said the capacity could still increase depending on local health guidance.

“We are starting ticket sales at 25 per cent of capacity in our three main stadiums and as we work closely with the Victorian Government, hope to be in a position to increase our numbers as we get closer to the event,” the Tennis Australia boss informed.

After last year’s tournament was affected by bushfires in Australia, Tennis Australia assembled a crisis management team. That same team has been working on business and operational plans to address the impact of COVID-19 on the 2021 tennis spectacle.

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