Sydney: Numerous warm-up events for the Australian Open tennis tournament will be moved to Victoria state to ensure players can attend the season-opening Grand Slam, Tennis Australia confirmed on Monday.
Under the plan, tournaments originally planned for Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Hobart, Adelaide and Canberra will all be played in Victoria before the Open at Melbourne Park from 18-31 January.
Tournament director Craig Tiley said the move was because COVID-19 restrictions meant that state governments could not guarantee that overseas players contesting warm-ups outside Victoria would be free to travel to Melbourne for the Grand Slam.
“There is now no risk of the Australian Open going ahead without everyone (all players) in Victoria, and we didn’t have that guarantee previously,” he told Melbourne’s Herald Sun newspaper.
The new arrangements will involve players flying into Melbourne to undergo two weeks of mandatory quarantine, when they will be restricted to hotels but have access to tennis courts.
Once they have completed quarantine and twice tested negative to COVID-19, the players will be able to move freely around Victoria.
Tiley said he expected the Victoria state government to allow crowds of at least 25 percent capacity at Melbourne Park.
Australia’s second largest city emerged from months of COVID-19 lockdown last month and has recorded no new coronavirus cases since 29 October.
Tasmania Premier Peter Gutwein said it was disappointing to lose the Hobart International but he was confident the tournament would return to the state capital in 2022.
He said the decision was taken by Tennis Australia because of the complications in allowing international players to travel between states.
“Whilst disappointing, it is understandable why they arrived at that outcome and, at the end of the day, it will certainly assist to keep Tasmanians safe,” he told reporters.
Tennis Australia confirmed that details of the Herald Sun’s report on the tournament rescheduling were correct, but was unable to provide a breakdown of the changes.