MELBOURNE, Nov 16 — Tennis Australia will schedule all of its summer tournaments, including the lucrative ATP Cup, in the southern state of Victoria due to Covid-19.
Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley said the governing body had made the unprecedented move because other Australian states could not guarantee player quarantine arrangements or make a “commitment of open travel between cities”.
“Now it’s a matter of working out with the Victorian government what the quarantining program looks like, that it ensures the safety of the community and then of course the safety of the players coming in,” Tiley said in comments published by Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper on Monday.
“There is now no risk of the Australian Open going ahead without everyone in Victoria and we didn’t have that guarantee previously.”
The inaugural team-based ATP Cup, which offered US$15 million (RM61.7 million) in prize money and launched the men’s ATP tour season, was played in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane last January.
But the second edition will likely be played entirely in Melbourne, the Victoria state capital and host city of the Australian Open.
Other Australian Open warmup tournaments, including the Brisbane International and events in Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra, will be moved to Victoria.
“Tennis fans in Queensland will understandably be feeling a little flat with the decision however the current Covid-19 protocols meant a Melbourne-only summer of tennis is the safest and most feasible option for the playing group,” Brisbane International tournament director Mark Handley said in a statement.
Tiley said players would be able to train and compete in a biosecure bubble during a two-week quarantine after landing in Melbourne but would then be free to move around Victoria and mix with fans.
“So the Australian Open will be played in an open environment with players moving around freely, as well as fans — at least up to 25 per cent (capacity),” he said.
Once the epicentre of a second-wave outbreak of Covid-19 mid-year, Victoria has recorded 17 consecutive days of no new cases following a four-month lockdown.
TA hope the current crowd cap of 25 per cent at stadiums could be lifted if the favourable trend continues.
Tiley said TA were looking at staging some of the summer tournaments in Victoria’s regional cities like Bendigo and Traralgon, subject to authorities’ approvals. — Reuters