Tennis Australia Opts For Fewer Spectators For Australian Open

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

According to a report in Melbourne daily The Age, Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley has decided on how he plans to run next year’s Australian Open: by reducing the number of spectators and with the use of bio-security.

No doubt, Tiley will be paying close attention to how organizers run the upcoming US Open in New York and the French Open in Paris. The US Open has already indicated that it will be played behind closed doors with no spectators allowed while Roland Garros, which unilaterally moved from its traditional late May start to late September due to the coronavirus pandemic, will allow a reduced number of fans on its grounds.

Tiley will be challenged by placing the players in a secure bio-security “bubble” and there’s also been talk about not allowing any overseas spectators.

Rod Laver Arena seats 15,000 spectators when at capacity. However, it will have a reduced number this year to maintain social distancing. According to The Age, “If current planning continues, there’ll be only half that many spectators in Melbourne Park’s main show court in 2021, and any overseas players who win the title will have spent some time in quarantine on their arrival in Australia, been tested for COVID-19, stay at one of the official bio-secure tournament hotels and travel to the tournament site in sealed transport.”

“We made that decision this week, to go with that scenario from a number of options,” Tiley told The Associated Press Saturday in a telephone interview.

“We will not hit the numbers we had last year, a record 821,000 through the gates. Our fans will be from Melbourne and Victoria state, interstate, as well as potentially New Zealanders, if they lift border restrictions. But the 15 percent we get from overseas will likely not be here.”