2021 Australian Open master plan: Five ‘bio-secure bubbles’, full prize money, limited crowds

Australian Open
Melbourne Park Australian Open

Australian Open organisers are pressing ahead with plans to host the 2021 tournament in its usual slot with full prize money, but they have come up with contingency plans should COVID-19 cause further havoc.

With no end in sight to the coronavirus pandemic, there are major clouds hanging over not only the remainder of the 2020 tennis calendar, but also the 2021 one.

To add to the uncertainty, Victoria has had a surge in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks, leading to neighbouring New South Wales offering to stage the Australian Open and other sporting events.

Australian Open chief says ‘thanks, but no thanks’ after NSW offers to host 2021 Grand Slam

However, Tennis Australia chief executive and Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley insists Melbourne will host the 2021 event in January, but they do have alternative plans in place.

Five “bio-secure bubbles” will be opened across Australia six weeks before the tournament gets underway, ticket sales will start in October while if push comes to shove they could move the event to later in the year.

“We’re going to open our bio bubble from the first of December and players can come at any time,” Tiley told Reuters.

“When the players arrive, our expectation is they’re not going to be in a hotel for 14 days like the current requirements are. We’ll have an exemption within this bio-secure bubble.

“We’ve said every year that we’re the ‘happy slam’. But now we’re saying we’re the ‘very safe and happy Slam’.”

Just over 800,000 people attended this year’s Australian Open, but Tiley says they hope to have 400,000 fans at next year’s tournament.

“Scenario three was behind closed doors, a broadcast-only event. Scenario four was moving to another time of the year,” he said.

“And scenario five is no event at all.”

He added: “We’ve established a strategy and an operational plan for all our fans and how they will be positioned around the site.”

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