Victoria as tennis hub not okay with Premier


Australian Tennis update November 2020 Image: Melbourne and Olympic Parks

Plans are being drawn up for Victoria to stage Australia’s entire summer tennis calendar to minimize risks for players traveling to State capital Melbourne for January’s Australian Open Grand Slam what with coronavirus onslaught on in full force globally.

The 2021 Australian Open is due to take place from January 18th-31st next year. Traditionally, warm-up events are held in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart but Tennis Australia is planning to stage all these tournaments either in Melbourne or other locations in Victoria, such as Bendigo and Traralgon, creating a hub that will seek to limit the risks posed by COVID-19.

Australian Open is one of the world’s major tennis championships (the first of the four annual Grand Slam events), and is otherwise held at the National Tennis Centre at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia.

The plans still remain to be greenlighted with Tennis Australia weighing the pros and cons of remodeling Melbourne into a concentrated hub for fixtures. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews stressed that the proposals were “far from a done deal”. Andrews is not very much open to the idea as he feels in this tennis showpiece too many people are involved and the world is still on the edge as far as the COVID-19 situation is concerned.

Andrews told mediapersons, “The public health team needs to sign off on all of these arrangements and they are just not settled. We want the event to happen, just like the Boxing Day Test, but the thing about the cricket compared to the tennis is it’s a tiny group of people (who) we think we can quarantine. It’s a massive event. It’s an event that all of us love … but it comes at a time when the rest of the world is on fire.”

“The notion this is all a done deal and there’s going to be all these tennis players turning up – no, this is not settled at all. It’s an important event, absolutely, but avoiding a third wave is arguably even more important. This needs to be done on the best of public health advice,” the Premier added.

As part of the plans, players would start arriving in Australia next month before quarantining for 14 days ahead of competing at any events that are scheduled.

Victoria recently lifted a two-month lockdown that was imposed to arrest the spread of COVID-19 which had the southeastern Australian State in its fatal grip. Differing travel restrictions are still in place between States.

Back in August, Tennis Australia Chief Executive Craig Tiley revealed that bio-secure bubbles will be set up for players competing in next year’s Australian Open and was keeping fingers crossed that as many as 400,000 fans could attend. Tiley has previously said that the tournament would not be relocated from Melbourne to another City despite a rise in COVID-19 cases in Victoria.

The Australian Open organizers desperately want to avoid a US Open kind of situation which was held this year without one of its most iconic hallmarks: The crowd. Tiley felt they now had a “guarantee” that the event would go ahead, but the premier insisted such plans were far from settled.

The unprecedented measure flagged by Tennis Australia would see up to 550 players and their entourages flying into Melbourne from mid-December, where they would be allowed to play and train but be restricted to hotels or the tennis court until they had completed two weeks of quarantine.

They would then be free to travel around the State for competition, with some of the tournaments set to be held at regional venues such as Bendigo and Traralgon, subject to nod.

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty and Nick Kyrgios will resume playing after electing not to travel overseas this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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