Craig Tiley, managing director of Tennis Australia, told Australian Associated Press that the tournament, which was due to start in January 2021, “will be jeopardized” as his team prepares a series of emergency plans for the uncertainty of the coronavirus.
The organization models and prepares four possible scenarios in its emergency plans, which would include the possibility of playing the tournament behind closed doors. “The worst case is not an AO,” said Tiley. “Our best scenario at this point is to have an AO with players that we can get here with quarantine techniques and Australian fans only. “
Tiley’s comments reflect the grim reality of a global sport like tennis at a time when international travel is limited and many countries require new arrivals to self-quarantine on landing. Even his best scenario presents a fundamental problem for the functioning of the sport, where players fly from city to city every week. If the players arrive at the Australian Open, it remains to be seen whether they will be able to compete elsewhere.
The tennis season is expected to return in July before the US Open. But the tournament’s Arthur Ashe stadium is set up as a temporary hospital for coronavirus patients in New York. The US Open will make a final status decision in June but the Rogers Cup, a major women’s warm-up tournament in Montreal, has been canceled since mid-April. The French Open, now classified as the last Grand Slam tournament of the year, is expected to start in late September, just weeks after the lifting of the ban on sporting events in France.
Problems that cross borders and time zones mean that discourse through tennis is radically different from that of national sports around the world. While other sports are debating the terms and timing of their recovery, tennis players have always said they think the season is already over. In his successful victory at the Madrid Virtual Open, Andy Murray clearly defined his priorities: “Let’s just try to get things back to normal first, and then we can think about playing sports again.”
Asked about the rest of the season, Rafael Nadal told El Pais: “I doubt it. I’m more concerned about the Australian Open than what will happen at the end of this year. I see 2020 as a lost year. I hope to start again next year. Hopefully it will be so. “
In the meantime, Nadal has followed developments closely and made a rare political criticism of La Voz de Galicia, which caused a sensation. “It is important that they succeed,” he said.
“There are things that cannot be reversed. There have been mistakes. Sorry, but it’s fair to say that this is not a political issue … Everyone understands that politicians make mistakes. It’s human. I make mistakes everyday. What I like least is when mistakes are not recognized, because you no longer have credibility. “