Should reports in two newspapers, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, prove correct, the Australian Open will kick off on February 8, three weeks later than the original schedule of January 18.
It’s taken a while, but the great news is it looks like we are going to be able to hold the AO on Feb. 8, Craig Tilley
Both papers claim that the organisers and Victoria Government officials have, after extremely lengthy discussions, finally agreed on player’s arrival dates and quarantine details.
As the Victorian Government will only allow players to arrive after the 1st January to go into a 14-day quarantine before being allowed to go out and play, it would have meant the players going into the Aussie Open without any match practice.
It also meant that the warm-up events would have to be cancelled.
It seems that Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tilley has informed players, as per the newspaper reports, of the new starting date and described the new quarantine arrangements which have been agreed specifically for them.
“It’s taken a while, but the great news is it looks like we are going to be able to hold the AO on Feb. 8,” Tilley is quoted as saying.
“Players will have to quarantine for two weeks from 15 January, but the Victorian Government has agreed to special conditions for AO participants – agreeing that they need to be able to prepare for a Grand Slam.
“There will be strict conditions, but after quarantine, players are free to stay where they want, go where they want, play lead-in matches and then compete in an AO in front of significant crowds in a great Melbourne atmosphere for the first time in many months.”
Amongst the conditions players will be tested for the Covid-19 virus on five separate occasions namely, on days 1, 3, 7, 10 and 14 and if the first result is negative, the player will be able to be able to use the tennis courts and gym facilities at Melbourne Park and Albert Reserve Tennis Centres for five hours each day.
It is also understood that TA is prepared to charter flights to encourage players to participate, as well as cover the costs they might incur during quarantine re meals and accommodation.
Perhaps of more importance is the news that the prize money pool remains intact.