Australian Open chief Craig Tiley is confident tennis’ season-opening grand slam will take place in Melbourne next year despite suggestions that the tournament may be played overseas. However, the federal government in Australia is sticking to predictions that international borders will be closed until at least the middle of 2022, leaving the feasibility of hosting the Australian Open shrouded in doubt.
It has even been suggested in a recent ABC report that alternative destinations are being explored, with Dubai and Doha said to be being considered as potential venues. But Tiley, speaking to RSN, believes the timeline on opening up borders will be altered in time for the tournament, which traditionally takes place in January.
“We’re talking about two weeks of quarantine and the borders remaining closed until the middle of next year, but I’m an optimist,” Tiley said.
“I think that’s going to be too long. I think it’s going to be brought forward because we’re going to get on top of it with the vaccines and how we manage the virus. If we don’t, we’re going to be extremely challenged.”
This year’s tournament was blighted by logistical issues, with several players forced into quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus on chartered flights into Australia, while just days before the event was due to begin more than 500 players and officials were made to isolate after a worker at an Australian Open quarantine hotel tested positive for COVID-19.
Novak Djokovic, the men’s singles champion in Melbourne, was chief among those critical of the conditions players had to endure.
“The players have been travelling around the world in a bubble so there’s no place in the world anymore where there’s quarantine requirements for them and so they’re used to certain conditions,” Tiley added.
“We [in Australia] still have this 14-day requirement but of course the positive is we don’t have any community transmission of the virus.”