The Tennis Australian Open 2021 will be the 109th edition of the tournament. The 53rd in the Open Era and the first Grand Slam of the year. It was supposed to take place between January 18-31 in the cities of Australia. However, it is postponed by three weeks to February due to the recent pandemic situation.
A worker from the supporting staff for Australian Open 2021 tested Covid positive. Nonetheless, Tennis Australia’s Chief Executive, Craig Tiley is confident about the competition to be held next week amidst all these. Novak Djokovic and Sofia Kenin were the Champions last year in their respective games.
Tennis Australia Boss is Confident
Tennis Australian Chief said that he is confident that the Grand Slam will start from Monday next week and he has no intention of pushing it down further. At a press conference, Tiley conveyed, “We’re absolutely confident the Australian Open will go ahead. We will be starting on Monday and we have no intention of changing times.”
The schedule got delayed as a 26-year-old man working at one hotel for the Australian Open 2021 tested COVID positive. Soon the news broke out like wildfire. Some 500 players, support staff, and officials of the Grand Slam were forced into isolation as a result of this.
Tiley also stated, “We know that we have a period now where we have to work with those 507 players and their staff. The probability is very low that there will be an issue though. We expect them all to test negative.”
The testing began on Thursday and if someone tests positive, they will have to quarantine themselves. As a result, Thursday’s play in warm-up tournaments being contested at Melbourne Park was postponed.
In response to the delayed draw
As per the schedule, the competition will initiate from next week, after its earlier postponement. The draw for the games got delayed too.
The players taking part are anxious for the draw. They are eager to know the side of the draw they will be on and also want to know their opening opponents. The draw for the games is postponed from Thursday to Friday and the main event to start at Melbourne Park on Monday.
In this regard, Tiley asserted, “The plan is to continue to play [in the lead-up events] tomorrow as planned. If we have to go through this again, we will go through this again. We have three and a half weeks of tennis to play and we will go on as scheduled.”
However, Tennis Australia might plan to squeeze out all remaining practice matches before Sunday. This would be announced later on Thursday. Also, asking some players to play two matches in one day might be the case under such circumstances, Tiley said.
The inclement weather hit Melbourne on Friday. In that Tiley said they would play the matches on courts under roofs. Although the draw for the Open was to take place behind closed doors on Thursday evening. They will now take place on Friday afternoon.
Players adapted to the situation
“It will be a smaller version to what we’ve done before. Now the focus is to get the draw done. Also, get it out there so everyone can start planning what they are doing Monday and who they are watching. We will make the decisions on which halves play where by Saturday. We have got to get through quite a few matches on Friday.” Tiley said.
He further remarked, “The players have been remarkable. They have been 14 days in quarantine, some of them longer. It took them a while to get used to that as we all know with their comments. But the majority have been fantastic. When we made the calls last night and this morning they completely accepted it and have all gone and got tested.”
In conclusion to the context, he added, “They’ve been very appreciative of the opportunity to play and I had a number of calls late last night and also this morning from them confirming that we want this to happen and we will do whatever.”
Health and safety factor being a major issue
Earlier on Thursday, Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer, Prof Allen Cheng, looked into this matter. He said that the risk to players, officials, and their support staff quarantining at the Grand Hyatt hotel of contracting the virus was low.
“I think it’s unlikely [they would test positive] but we have asked for testing of all of the players and other people who have been in that hotel,” Cheng said.
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Cheng further added, “We think the risk to other guests at the hotel, so tennis players and their accompanying staff, is relatively low because they were in the rooms at the time as opposed to staff who were outside the rooms. That said, the last case to leave the hotel for the health hotel left on the 22nd. So we’re now getting on to close to 14 days since that time. So we think that risk is relatively low so we’re testing them to be sure, and it’s precautionary.”
With the Tennis Australia boss being confident about the Grand Slam to take place next week, there has been considerable debate over the decision to allow this year’s tournament over COVID-19.
However, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has defended the decision to go ahead with the Australian Open and has disputed claims tennis stars are being treated preferentially in terms of public health advice and they left no stone unturned to make the competition safer for everyone.