The USTA has confirmed that the US Open will go ahead as planned, alongside the Western & Southern Open tune-up event the week before, both with strict protocols in place.
Working with our medical advisory group and security team and the state of New York, we have developed a strong health and safety plan to mitigate the risk of infection within the contained environment comprised of the tournament site and player hotels. New York state continues to be one of the safest places in the country as it relates to the Covid-19 virus. USTA Statement
“We remain confident that our top priority, the health and safety of all involved in both tournaments, remains on track,” an official statement read.
Exactly what those health and safety details are remains unknown, with the hard court Grand Slam set to begin behind closed doors on 31 August in a ‘bubble’ quarantine setting at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The USTA has said it will release details of its health and safety plans at a later date closer to the tournaments, pointing out it has worked with both the ATP and WTA Tours to cover all aspects.
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic and World No 2 Rafael Nadal have entered the Western & Southern Open, but have yet to confirm their attendance at the US Open.
Former women’s No 1s Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka have committed to playing in the US Open, but top-ranked Ashleigh Barty will skip it over Covid-19 fears.
New York was the first major US hot spot for the virus, with conditions so severe that a temporary hospital was established on the grounds of the USTA Tennis Center in March.
Cases have become more manageable in recent months, although it remains a concern that people visiting from other outbreak areas across the country could precipitate another spike in infections.
The USTA, however, insists that the risk of contracting Covid-19 will be minimal as long as there is strict adherence to the bubble protocols in place.
“Working with our medical advisory group and security team and the state of New York, we have developed a strong health and safety plan to mitigate the risk of infection within the contained environment comprised of the tournament site and player hotels,” it said.
“New York state continues to be one of the safest places in the country as it relates to the Covid-19 virus.”
Success of WTT Bubble
With the return of the WTA Tour on Monday and the ATP Tour on 17 August, organisers can take heart from the success of World Team Tennis, the team competition held over 3 weeks at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia with many rules and regulations in place.
Restrictions include quarantining upon arrival, multiple coronavirus tests, food and drink regulations, and having less people on the court outside of the players.
WTT has been very strict with how they have handled player safety and dismissed Danielle Collins, a player for the Orlando Storm, out of the league for not staying on The Greenbrier premises throughout the event.
The approach has worked and as of 22 July, the league had announced 0 positive case results, and there have been 0 reports of positive cases since then.
With 9 different teams involving 60 players, 20 coaches and 95 staff, WTT has gone off without a hitch, even with a small number of fans let into the venues, and provides a blueprint, of sorts, in terms of how to properly handle the coronavirus pandemic in a tennis bubble.
Of course, the US Open is a far greater logistical problem, both for the USTA as well as the WTA and ATP, who provide vital support staff.
Despite the exemption for players travelling into the United States not to have to quarantine for 14 days, there is reluctance for many to take the risk, who have to consider the repercussions of flying on to Europe or travelling home.
The player in Palermo had flown in from abroad and was asymptomatic but, nevertheless, a potential spreader of a disease that continues to impact billions of lives around the world.