Plans are being drawn up for Victoria to stage Australia’s entire summer tennis calendar to minimise risks for players travelling to state capital Melbourne for January’s Australian Open grand slam.
The 2021 Australian Open is due to take place from January 18-31. Traditionally, warm-up events are held in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart but Tennis Australia is planning to stage all these tournaments either in Melbourne or other locations in Victoria, such as Bendigo and Traralgon, creating a hub that will seek to limit the risks posed by COVID-19.
The plans still require the green light, with Tennis Australia currently considering the logistics of transforming Melbourne into a concentrated hub for tournaments. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews stressed that the proposals were “far from a done deal”.
“The public health team needs to sign off on all of these arrangements and they are just not settled,” Andrews said, according to the Australian Associated Press.
“We want the event to happen, just like the Boxing Day Test, but the thing about the cricket compared to the tennis is it’s a tiny group of people (who) we think we can quarantine. It’s a massive event. It’s an event that all of us love … but it comes at a time when the rest of the world is on fire.
“The notion this is all a done deal and there’s going to be all these tennis players turning up – no, this is not settled at all. It’s an important event, absolutely, but avoiding a third wave is arguably even more important. This needs to be done on the best of public health advice.”
The plans would see players start to arrive in Australia next month before quarantining for 14 days ahead of competing at any events that are scheduled.
Victoria recently lifted a two-month lockdown that was imposed to limit the spread of COVID-19 and differing travel restrictions are still in place between states.
Back in August, Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley revealed that bio-secure bubbles will be set up for players competing in next year’s Australian Open and expressed hopes that as many as 400,000 fans could attend. Tiley has previously said that the tournament would not be relocated from Melbourne to another city despite a rise in COVID-19 cases in Victoria.