The changes continue! The Australian Open will be held in February

The authorities of the oceanic country will impose a strict quarantine on tennis players that will delay the start of the first Grand Slam of the year. Athletes should arrive on January 15.

Tennis player on a court throwing a ball

The Australian Open, traditionally played in January, will be played this time from February 8. / Photo: Unsplash

LatinAmerican Post | Onofre Zambrano

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Leer en español: ¡Y siguen los cambios! El Australian Open se celebrará en febrero

The coronavirus continues to afflict professional sports, even with a view to the start of 2021, since the Australian Open, which is traditionally played in January, will be played this time from February 8, after participating athletes comply with a mandatory quarantine imposed by the Melbourne authorities as a security protocol.

Craig Tiley, director of the Australian Open, confirmed it to the Australian newspaper The Age. The first Grand Slam of each year, which is held on a hard court and which would initially take place between January 18 and 31, generated a disagreement between tennis officials and government authorities over the COVID-19 situation.

Thus, those responsible for the event have confirmed that the first Grand Slam of the season can be played from February 8 to 22, 2021 but, provided that the conditions of the sanitary protocol agreed with the government of the state of Victoria for tennis players, teams are accepted and staff who decide to go to Melbourne.

These will be the measurements

Among the measures confirmed by Tiley, head of the Australian tennis federation (TA), a harsh quarantine will be imposed on participants, with only five hours outside the hotel room to train.

Similarly, the arrival of players and technical teams must be between January 15 and 17 to begin their confinement. Once overcome, they will be allowed to move freely through the state of Victoria and its capital Melbourne. To be able to do it on the traditional dates, players would have to arrive in Australia before January 1 on full holiday dates.

"It has taken a long time, but the good news is that we will finally be able to carry out the event from February 8," Tiley explained to the aforementioned Australian publication, in statements replicated by El Periódico who also confirmed that Tennis Australia will pay for the flights, quarantine costs for players and their equipment, meals and accommodation.

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Tiley also assured that the 'prize money' of the tournament will be a total of 71 million dollars and that what is sought is to increase the prizes for playing the first rounds.

For weeks it had been rumored to postpone the start of the first Grand Slam of the year as it had been advanced by ESPN, which replicated what was published by the Sydney Morning Herald, which read verbatim "players have been advised the Australian Open will most likely start on February 1, pending Victorian government approval for them to travel to Melbourne in the first week of January. Players are set to arrive by January 7, before completing a 14-day quarantine period, with a final decision set to come as early as Friday.."

With the decision, the bodies that govern men's tennis, ATP, as well as women's tennis, the WTA, will have more time to confirm which preliminary tournaments will be held next year, which as we can see will be another atypical calendar like this 2020. For now, the only thing that seems certain is that the ATP Cup would not be played.

How did it all start?

The possibility of modifying the date began with a statement in response to the statements made by the Prime Minister of the state of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, who had explained that the players could not reach the oceanic nation before January 1 and that, in addition, they had to undergo the sanitary process of quarantine.

Tiley, in turn, had remarked in his writing that the intention of his team was to be able to finish the tennis summer in Australia as soon as possible, alluding to both the preparatory tournaments and the 'major' itself. "We are continuing our urgent talks with local health authorities regarding quarantining and bio-security requirements and are confident we will have decisions soon," he told ESPN at the time.

An ornamental bubble

Tennis Australia designed a bubble in which you can train more and not play, even if the tennis courts insist. It must be taken into account that matches in the men's category are the best of five sets and filming is required before seeing action in a preparatory tournament, and that was always another point against the start of the traditional date.

Finally, time ended up giving the reason to many of the tennis players who did not book flights until they knew the official dates. Charter planes from strategic airports such as Los Angeles, Singapore and Dubai were another options that was not implemented either.