Australian Open junior tournament, boys and girls tournaments, postponed due to travel restrictions, COVID-19 difficulties


The decision is complex, given players and their support staff would prefer to get into the country well before the tournament.

When asked on Saturday about reports suggesting the Open could be pushed back to March or April, Premier Daniel Andrews said: ‘‘… from the seventh of next month we can have flights returning to Melbourne and a hotel quarantining system will be reset and set up at that point and this is not a simple thing, 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 Australian 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.’’

The Open’s junior events have been postponed, with officials telling participants on Saturday that it had been pushed back due to travel restrictions because of coronavirus.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley and Australian Open juniors tournament director Francis Soyer announced the postponement in a letter to players, with an aim to hold a replacement tournament in 2021.

“Australia has had relatively few cases of COVID-19 … and this has been achieved through strict biosecurity measures which include limiting international travellers into Australia, and mandatory 14-day quarantine for all international arrivals,” the letter read.

“These limits along with the increased biosecurity requirements have unfortunately made it extremely difficult for us to run a junior event at the 2021 Australian Open.”

The Australian Open Junior tournament won’t go ahead as ususal. Credit:Chris Hopkins

Tennis Australia declined to comment further on Saturday.

The current timeline has raised doubts about players taking part in any lead-in events, such as the ATP Cup men’s teams event, which remain shrouded in uncertainty

Australian doubles great Todd Woodbridge said on Saturday that moving the two-week event to another spot in the calendar remained possible.

“I don’t think that’s an outcome we would be wanting,” Woodbridge said on the ABC.

“But stranger things have happened in 2020, haven’t they? Roland Garros – being played in September instead of May, even in the golf world the [US] Masters recently just finished a week ago and of course that’s played in April normally.

“These are all things that at some point you would have said ‘no, that’s not possible’.

“[But] financially, to sustain these events, you can’t lose a year. There’s so much at stake.”

Woodbridge said, despite the great uncertainty, it was highly unlikely the Open – a mainstay of Melbourne’s major events strategy – could somehow be shifted to another city.

“I think that would be hard-pressed now given the timeframe to be honest with you,” Woodbridge said.

“The thing we have is that the size of the event in terms of the draws and so forth [and] the facilities required … Melbourne Park is the perfect place to be able to do that.

“The early part of next year, 2021 – all of the tennis calendars are looking shaky.

“All of those discussions are ongoing too, between Tennis Australia, the men’s tour, the women’s tour and the International Tennis Federation about trying to work out what’s best.”

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The manager of Alex de Minaur, one of Australia’s best players, has said there was a risk other players could boycott the tournament if preparations were not deemed to be up to scratch.

International sport has been thrown into turmoil since the coronavirus pandemic struck in March. Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since 1945, while the US Open was held without spectators and Roland Garros shifted to September.

Wimbledon had the benefit of cancelling this year with pandemic insurance protection to draw upon but, as The Age revealed in July, Tennis Australia had previously taken out similar insurance coverage for the Australian Open but that policy was due to expire. Thus, they would not be able to draw on the policy for the 2021 event.

Tennis Australia had proposed for players to land in Melbourne in early December and exist in biosecure “controlled bubble” environments in which movement is limited to travel between hotels and the practice court. Tiley has previously told The Age that costs for organising quarantine conditions would exceed $30 million.

Central to TA’s negotiations with health officials has been the capacity for players to practice while undergoing quarantine. World No.1 Novak Djokovic this week called for “support and understanding” from Australian authorities while even advocating for players to be allowed to compete in the second week of quarantine.

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Novak Djokovic urges Victorian Government to allow Australian Open lead up tournaments


World number one Novak Djokovic is urging the Victorian Government to allow players to compete before next year’s Australian Open.

The start of the 2021 tennis season remains in limbo, with officials declining to endorse Tennis Australia’s plans to have players arrive in mid-December and be free to compete at the ATP Cup and other events ahead of the year’s first grand slam.

On Monday, Tennis Australia announced all lead-up events to the Australian Open would be played in Melbourne, instead of across most of the country’s capital cities.

Djokovic — who won the Australian Open in 2020 — said he would do whatever was required to play at the Australian Open, but hoped the Victorian Government would also be accommodating.

“I hope that there is going to be support and understanding from the Victorian and Australian Government for the players and for Tennis Australia and that they will allow players to compete in the second week of quarantine,” he told reporters at the ATP Finals on Wednesday.

“You will be able to have at least a tournament or two prior to the Australian Open, which for majority of the players is important.

“Having no official match before the Australian Open, before a grand slam, is a huge thing.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has not made a decision on the upcoming tennis season in Melbourne.(ABC News: Darryl Torpy)

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said this week he was confident the Australian Open would go ahead at Melbourne Park but declined to confirm Tennis Australia’s revamped schedule.

“It has to be done safely, it has to be done properly,” Mr Andrews said on Wednesday.

“We are working very, very closely with Tennis Australia. They are working [with] all of their partners and we’re confident that we’ll finish up with an Australian Open. It’s a very important event.

US Open finalist Alex Zverev said players should at least be able to practice during quarantine.

“Because if we can’t even practice for 14 days and we have to go out to play the Australian Open, it’s a lottery,” the German said.

“You can basically flip a coin who wins.”

The Australian Open is scheduled to be held from January 18-31.

Reuters/ABC



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