The 2021 Australian Open will be “compromised” and could even be canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, Tennis Australia chief executive officer Craig Tiley said on Wednesday.
Though the Grand Slam event is more than eight months away, concern is already growing, and Tiley’s comments to Australian reporters included this eye-opening salvo:
“Worst-case scenario is no AO,” Tiley said.
And if the tournament goes on, it won’t be under ideal circumstances.
“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,” Tiley said.
“There are four scenarios, and we’ve modeled everything. We’ve modeled 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. And now we’re working on the international playing group and getting them to understand what each of those scenarios are.”
Australia had seen more than 6,800 people test positive for the coronavirus as of Wednesday event, and 97 people had died, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.
The sport of tennis has been shut down since the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., was canceled on March 8.
With players regularly needing to take international flights, the possibility of the sport’s return is hard to predict. However, star player Rafael Nadal said earlier this week he doesn’t expect there to be tennis in 2020.
As far as the other three Grand Slam events, Wimbledon was canceled, the French Open was pushed back to September, and the fate of the U.S. Open has yet to be determined.
—Field Level Media