Tennis Australia has ruled out a fortnight of hard quarantine for players and says community vaccination rates will be crucial in determining whether January’s Australian Open goes ahead.
Amid fears the Australian Open could follow Melbourne’s Formula One grand prix and MotoGP in being scrapped because of coronavirus issues, TA boss Craig Tiley said on Monday he was confident next year’s tournament will go ahead with players in a bubble, but said a compromise between players and the Victorian government over protocols was required.
The Albert Park race and Phillip Island event were cancelled last week because of Australia’s low vaccination rates and the Federal government’s recent decision to slash international arrivals, but tennis officials are desperate to give Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty the chance to win her home tournament.
“What’s happened has even strengthened our resolve on the fact that in January we are going to have an Australian Open in the last two weeks,” Tiley said.
“Now the focus is on the Australian Open, that’s the next major global sporting event, it will be the largest sporting event to launch the year.
“We want to do it with crowds. We know we can get the players here. The two weeks of hard, strict quarantine will not be something that we can encourage the players to participate in but, by that point, we will all be vaccinated, if we have played our part, the part we should play to do the right thing by protecting others in the community.
“We will be five months down the track, we will have found better solutions on managing the spread of the virus and we believe in the two-week window through isolation, playing in a bubble and interacting among themselves, we will have a solution that the players will accept, one that will protect the safety and health of our community, which from the beginning has been our primary objective.”
Tiley said this year’s tournament, with predicted losses of more than $100 million, had been a success, with players having had to test negative before taking a chartered flight to Melbourne. They then had to complete a hard two-week quarantine, with some unable to even train through this period.