2021 Australian Open still going ahead as planned in January, insists tournament director

Rod Laver Arena Melbourne Park Australian Open

Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley insists “nothing has changed” for organisers in terms of the venue and date for the 2021 hard-court Grand Slam.

The season-opening major is scheduled to run from January 18-31 at Melbourne Park, but there are fresh question marks over the event following a recent spike in coronavirus cases in Victoria.

Tennis tournaments have been scrambling since the outbreak of Covid-19 with the French Open rescheduled to September while the US Open will have no spectators.

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Although ABC News claims Australian Open organisers are looking at different scenarios for next years’ tournament, including a behind-closed doors event, Tiley says they are not considering switching venues or dates.

“Nothing has changed for us in terms of our planning,” he told AAP. “The environment around us has changed, and will continue to change, as we’ve seen with the current spike in Victoria.

“We’re optimistic the additional measures currently in place will be successful — and restrictions will continue to be eased over the coming months.”

The United States Tennis Association and Roland Garros are set to adopt strict health and safety protocols to help minimise the spread of Covid-19 during the two majors, and Tiley says they are still playing it by ear.

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“The US Open and the French Open are exploring mandatory testing, varying levels of quarantine and limiting entourages,” he said.

“Of course we are looking at all these options, and more, as part of our scenario planning.

“It’s difficult to predict exactly what will need to be in place as guidelines and protocols are changing week by week, and sometimes even day by day.”

It emerged earlier this week that next year’s Australian Open is not protected by pandemic insurance as Tennis Australia’s cover ran out at the end of this year.

“Although we were able to have pandemic coverage as part of our policy over the past few years, the current situation with COVID-19 makes it prohibitive going forward, certainly in the short term,” a spokesperson told The Age.

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