He conceded that Australia’s annual summer of tennis “will be compromised” as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“Worst-case scenario is no AO [Australian Open],” Tiley said.
“Our best-case scenario at this point is having an AO with players that we can get in here with quarantining techniques and Australian-only fans.”
Tennis Australia later clarified that they hadn’t conceded that international visitors would be barred from Australian shores.
”But we do have to consider that scenario in our planning,” a spokesperson said.
“We have to look at all the angles because a lot of the decisions will be beyond our control and related to government guidelines and restrictions. We do need to have all the protocols in place to ensure everyone’s safety.”
The fortnight-long Australian Open is the largest event on the national sporting calendar and globally the biggest January money-spinner in all sport, even topping the Super Bowl.
So it’s no surprise TA is moving heaven and earth not to lose it next year – as well as feeling fortunate to have been one of the few major international sporting events to have even been staged in 2020 before the world moved into a coronavirus lockdown.
Resigned to the likelihood of the ATP and WTA tours being suspended for the rest of 2020 due to international travel restrictions, Tiley said TA had devised a series of extensive contingency plans in the hope of saving next year’s Open.
“There’s four scenarios and we’ve modelled everything,” he said.
“We’ve modelled the times we have to make decisions, dates we have to make decisions, who it impacts, how it’s going to impact them.
“We’ve done that for 670 staff. We’ve done that for all of our partners – our media partners, our sponsors and for all the governments and places we rent facilities [from].
“And now we’re working on the international playing group and getting them to understand what each of those scenarios are and what it means for them and how we can action it.”
The world will be watching as biosecurity experts reveal what measures they will employ to deal with a likely staggered lifting of travel restrictions.
As will Tennis Australia, who are set to unveil plans for a domestic Pro Series for leading Australian players to potentially be played across the country, depending on state border restrictions.
It’s yet to be revealed which of Australia’s elite professionals will take part, including world No.1 Ashleigh Barty and dual grand slam quarter-finalist Nick Kyrgios.
Stranded Spain-based Australian men’s No.1 Alex de Minaur will almost surely be unavailable, as will fellow young gun Alexei Popyrin, who is holed up in France.
But Davis Cup star and 2018 US Open quarter-finalist John Millman, who led the calls for a domestic competition in the event of Australia emerging from the coronaviris crisis earlier than other countries, is sure to be among the leading drawcards.
AAP, with The Age