Mon, 18 Jan 2021

The start of the Australian Open will be delayed until 8 February because of coronavirus prevention measures, a newspaper reported, as negotiations on players' arrival and quarantine in Melbourne continued on Wednesday.

International players would be allowed by the Victoria state government to arrive from 15-17 January, according to detailed plans seen by French sports daily L'Equipe, meaning the first Grand Slam of the year will be delayed by three weeks.

The proposals would allow players to train during a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Tennis Australia would not comment on the report on Wednesday, which came a day after CEO Craig Tiley said arrangements for the tournament, originally scheduled for 18-31 January, would be revealed soon.

"We are confident we will be in a position to finalise details for the Australian Open 2021 very soon," Tiley tweeted on Tuesday.

"Everything will require approval and agreement from the Victorian government before it can be confirmed," he added.

Tiley had originally wanted players to fly in from mid-December so they could undergo quarantine before playing traditional warm-up events before the Grand Slam.

But state premier Dan Andrews reportedly only wants players to arrive from early January - making it impossible to play the build-up events before the original start date.

Andrews said on Wednesday he remained committed to holding the tournament, but safety was paramount in a state that only recently emerged from a months-long lockdown to eliminate a second wave of Covid-19.

"Only the Australian Open is a tennis tournament in a city where it can likely be assumed that those players will bring the virus here," he told reporters in Melbourne.

An 8 February start date for the Australian Open could allow for a week of warm-up tournaments after the players emerge from quarantine, but would likely mean the men's flagship ATP Cup would be among the build-up events that have to be scrapped in 2021.

Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal last month said it was an unprecedented situation and urged patience from players as they awaited confirmation of when they might be able to travel to Australia.

"That is difficult for everyone," he said at the ATP Finals in London.

"We need to be flexible to understand the situation and to find a way to play as many tournaments as possible next year."

Source: News24

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