Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has moved to allay fears that the season-opening tennis grand slam and its preparation tournaments could be hampered by strict biosecurity protocols to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. .
Tiley said Sunday that Tennis Australia was still “doing its best to end the summer of tennis as soon as possible” after the Victorian state government said this week that nothing had been confirmed about the tournaments.
“We are working closely with the Victorian government on a plan that takes into account the needs of the players, fans, our partners and staff, and is of great benefit to the economy of Victoria and Australia,” added Tiley in a statement.
“We are continuing our urgent conversations with local health authorities regarding quarantine and biosecurity requirements and we are confident that we will have decisions soon.”
Victoria has just emerged from a prolonged lockdown following a rampant reappearance of the coronavirus, while Australia is effectively closed to international arrivals.
Tennis Australia (TA), however, said earlier this week that they had planned for players and their entourage to start arriving in Australia in mid-December, spend two weeks in mandatory quarantine, and then start playing in early January.
They had also planned to move all the prep tournaments to Victoria, but the state government downplayed that idea and said they hadn’t even confirmed whether the Grand Slam could continue.
Tiley, however, remained upbeat on Sunday.
“Our intention is to offer a summer in conditions that allow the players to prepare and perform at their best and that the fans enjoy their efforts, all in a safe environment for all concerned,” he said.
“Tennis Australia is very aware of the need for certainty, but also aware of reaching a solution with the state government.”
The Australian Open is scheduled to begin at Melbourne Park on January 18.