The start date for the first Grand Slam on the 2021 tennis calendar remains up in the air with international players unlikely to be allowed into Victoria next month.
Tennis Channel’s Steve Weissman detailed the news which puts the opening to the Austrlian Open looking like it will be pushed back.
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“Word from Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley that the first two weeks of the tune ups for the Australian Open could be in jeopardy,” Weissman said.
“The Victorian Government is not letting players quarantine during the month of December.”
Tennis icon Jim Courier noted the previous plan for international players was to see them land in Melbourne ahead of Christmas.
“The prior plan was players were going to be arriving in mid-December so they could quarantine for 14 days in a couple of hotels in Melbourne,” Courier said.
“That was already a change from the initial plan to have events around the country and players quarantining in Brisbane and Perth and in different places.
“Everything now moving to Melbourne that possibly shifting again now today, the players definitely not arriving in December. Lots of things up in the air, spare a thought for Tennis Australia. I cannot imagine that Craig and his team are getting any sleep at all.”
The current dates for the 2021 Australian Open are for it to get underway on January 18 which would leave only a handful of days for players to get out and tune up before the action begins. The Victorian government is yet to officially sign off on any tournaments.
Breaking News: The Australian Government is not allowing tennis players to enter the country in December.
What does this mean for the #AutralianOpen, and all the events prior? @paul_annacone, Jim Courier and @Steve_Weissman discuss on #TCLive→https://t.co/tPoe44TDv0 pic.twitter.com/aDKmHO96Yx
A release from the ATP Player Relations noted they were working with Tennis Australia to provide clarity as quickly as possible.
“In discussions with Tennis Australia over the past 24 hours, we have been informed there are some new challenges around the previously planned arrival dates for players and team members,” the statement read.
“We continue to work with Tennis Australia on confirming plans for January, and we will provide an update as soon as more information is available in the coming days.”
The change in plans is believed to be linked to the ongoing inquiry into Victoria’s hotel quarantine scheme.
A final report isn’t expected to be handed down until late December with the government reportedly reluctant to allow international arrivals until after this point.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews claimed there was no bans on players arriving prior to Christmas, but suggested the summer of tennis may only consist of the Australian Open.
“Whether (players) need to be here in December … I don’t know that that necessarily means there isn’t an Australian Open,” Andrews told reporters.
“Whether there are lead-in tournaments, that’s to be worked through.
“I just want to make the point that this is incredibly complex, it has to be safely, it has to be done properly.
“We are working very, very closely with Tennis Australia, they are working all of their partners (and) we’re confident that we’ll finish up with an Australian Open.”
Dan Andrews taking in the Aus Open action earlier in the year.Source:News Corp Australia
Australian Open officials remain confident the Grand Slam will go ahead, even if it is required to be pushed back. However the shut-out of international players puts at risk tournaments that are usually played as lead ins to the Grand Slam.
New York Times journalist Stuart Fraser detailed some of the serious concerns around pushing the arrival date for international players.
“Hearing there are serious concerns from players about flight options to Australia. Prices quickly going up for the few that are not being cancelled. This just an example of the difficulty in finding a flight to Melbourne at short notice … £16k one-way from London next week,” Fraser wrote.
“Most players looking at departing in mid-December to fulfil the quarantine requirements in time for the first tournaments. As it stands, a few more options around then but there are doubts over whether the flights will actually go ahead. Some have been cancelled in recent days.”
Looks like the Australian Open is in big danger, tbh. https://t.co/ljBLEasDQ3
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