The build-up to the 2021 Australian Open has been hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, but new details of how it will be handled have recently emerged.
What effect will the current health crisis have on one of tennis’ most historic events?
This tournament dates back to 1905 and is now the first Grand Slam event at the start of each year. It is eagerly awaited each year and generally has the highest attendances of any major tennis tournament, with over 800,000 spectators watching the games in 2020.
2020 saw Novak Djokovic retain the men’s singles title, giving him a total of eight wins in the Australian Open. The women’s title was claimed by Sofia Kenin. It is held in Melbourne Park, where the Rod Laver Arena is the biggest scenario and where a retractable roof adds to the atmosphere.
The 2021 Event Details
In 2021, this tournament is scheduled to start on January 18 and run through to the 31st of the same month. The draw and the schedule have yet to be finalized, but it is already clear that coronavirus concerns are going to make it more complicated than usual.
Things are made more difficult by the fact that the ATP Cup is due to begin before this, with Brisbane, Perth, and Sydney among the locations where it was to be held, from 3 to 12 January. The Brisbane International even is also scheduled for early January. However, the latest reports suggest that all of the lead-up tournament to the Australian Open will now be held in Melbourne.
It seems to be the case that Tennis Australia will set up a hub for players and their entourages, much as we saw earlier this year in the NBA. This approach allowed games to go ahead safely while fans could watch games at home and carry out NBA betting online (click here to learn NBA future odds: https://extra.betamerica.com/nba/odds/).
Hubs have already been used in Australian sports like rugby and football too, although without the added factor of international players arriving. This will allow them to carry out their quarantine, practice, and play in one place with very limited contact with the rest of the population.
While this has been reported in several places, Victorian state Premier Daniel Andrews later confirmed in a press conference that the idea of a tennis hub in Melbourne wasn’t yet a done deal. He confirmed that health authorities need to sign off the plans first.
The Arrival of International Players
The organization of this tennis tournament has been affected by the current restrictions in place. Australia’s international borders are pretty much closed and there are varying travel restrictions in place for moving between the different states. The latest news at the time of writing suggests that the arrival dates and permission for international players could complicate matters further.
Tennis Australia’s idea is to give a greater degree of security and certainty to the hundreds of players, coaches, and other entourage members that will be coming here from all over the planet. The popularity and huge scale of the Australian Open means that the authorities are keen to ensure that it can go ahead smoothly.
One of the potential issues with lead-up tournaments taking place in different locations would be that an outbreak could leads to players being stranded in a different part of the country and unable to make it to Melbourne in time for the main event.
It is thought that international players wound need to start to get to Australia by the middle of December, which would leave them enough time to carry out a 14-day quarantine period. But it still isn’t known if this will be possible.
Defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic said that “I want to play in Australia”. He wasn’t sure about participating in the ATP Cup or other lead-up tournaments, but insisted that he would be there for the Australian Open if at all possible.