The Australian Open is reportedly set for a dramatic move to a March or April timeslot as a result of the delicate negotiations between Tennis Australia (TA) and the Victorian Government.
It was revealed this week the government’s reported decision to block players from entering Australia before a two-week quarantine period from January 1 had turned the summer of tennis schedule into disarray.
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.
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Doubt surrounds Aus Open
Premier Daniel Andrews addressed the issue on Saturday as a report emerged a final decision will be made in the next three days.
The report from Aussie tennis commentator Brett Phillips revealed the 2021 Australian Open is set to be delayed by up to three months as tennis officials try to find a solution to an expected delay.
Phillips told SEN Radio in Sydney on Saturday the event is certain to be delayed, but a final decision has not been reached on if it will be delayed weeks or months.
Sofia Kenin of the United States poses with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy in Melbourne.Source: Getty Images
“It’s chaos, it’s delicate discussions, it’s crazy,” Phillips said.
“It’s incredible times for TA. I’d hate to be a TA administrator or a sports administrator full stop in 2020. Next year, it’s not going to get back to normal for so many sports. There’s breaking news by the hour with the Australian Open.
“My strong feeling, just on the situation that’s happened in Victoria in the past seven or eight months and our Premier, who’s taken a fair bit of criticism for the whole hotel quarantine bungle, is that they’re taking a very cautious approach.
“I’ve just got a very strong feeling that the Australian Open is going to be pushed back possibly to March or April. This is certainly one of the scenarios that was on the table, it was talked about.
“There’s no doubt the Australian Open won’t happen on it’s scheduled date. It’s just a matter of whether they move it back a week or do they push it back to March, April.”
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Sports broadcaster Shane McInnes questioned the notion of delaying the Open, unsure what it would actually achieve.
No need to move @AustralianOpen to March or April.
If this Government can’t safely quarantine players in Dec/Jan, they’re not going to be able to so in March/Apr.
It can either be done, or it can’t.
We either play Jan/ early Feb or (I hate to say it) risk foregoing the Open.
— Shane McInnes (@shanemcinnes) November 21, 2020
First two weeks of March.
3 weeks of lead up events in Melbourne.
Have to have those for quality at the Grand Slam.
Tour then off to Indian Wells > Miami.
— Adam Peacock (@adampeacock3) November 21, 2020
The Australian Open has not been held outside of January since 1987.
Phillips said the lack of clarity surrounding the quarantine period international athletes will be forced to complete before the Open means players don’t know if they would be allowed to train during the period of isolation.
It has already been announced that the Australian Open junior championships won’t go ahead in January in a bid to reduce the group of 1500 players, staff, and officials expected to descend on Melbourne Park.
When asked on Saturday if the Open could be moved back several months, Andrews said the exact timing of the event is “not settled yet”.
The 2020 Aussie Open men’s final was a classic.Source: Getty Images
He said the state government is working “very closely” with Tennis Australia, who are “in turn” working with the sponsors, broadcast and global partners.
“This is not a simple issue,” he said.
“What was important yesterday was to confirm that from the seventh of next month we can have flights return to Melbourne and a hotel quarantine system will be reset, set up at that point.
“This is not a simple thing though, to have many hundreds or indeed potentially well more than 1000 athletes and others who support them, media, being here for a very important event.
“It has to be done safely, it has to be done right. I am very confident we will have an Aussie Open in the early part of next year.”
“The exact timing of it, the exact arrangements we put in place, they are not settled yet and as soon as they are settled, I will be more than happy to share it with you.
“But I would not read too much into some of the reports.
“A lot of people are doing a lot of talking about these things and while they are talking, we’re getting on with the work so that we can have one of our most significant major events, not just for our state but indeed for our whole nation, happen as close to normal, as normal as anything can be, COVID normal, as possible.”