Australian Open could be playe...

Sport

Australian Open could be played behind closed doors say organisers

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

03:36 24 Apr 2020


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Organisers of next year's Australian Open are already making contingency plans for the competition not going ahead as normal. 

The coronavirus pandemic has made mincemeat of 2020's sporting calendar, with one tennis Grand Slam postponed until September and another cancelled altogether.

The French Open at Roland-Garros is due to begin on September 27, a fortnight after the conclusion of the US Open which is clinging onto its original window.

The All England Club bit the bullet, however, on April 1 cancelling Wimbledon for the first time since World War II.

Even though the Australian Open is nine-months away, organisers know they might not be immune to the effects of COVID-19.

Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley told The Age that one of the scenarios they're planning for is marking the return of tennis after a 10-month absence in January.

"We'd love that", Tiley said of the prospect.

"Another scenario is to return without a crowd – like the AFL are talking now, and the NRL.

"Another scenario is to [play] at another time of the year potentially and another scenario is the worst-case one – that there's no Australian Open until 2022.

 

Novak Djokovic (L) of Serbia and Dominic Thiem of Austria pose with the trophy during the awarding ceremony after the men's singles final at 2020 Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia on Feb. 2, 2020. (Photo by Bai Xue/Xinhua)

"We've got to prepare for all of them. We've got to build a financial model for all of them.

"The good news is that we had an event this year so we had some cash, but that dries up quickly if we have no revenue."

Insurance

Those contingencies also rely on insurance.

Tiley confirmed that Tennis Australia were covered in the event of a pandemic, "After Wimbledon, we were probably one of the few sporting organisations" to be in such a position.

However, he warned, "But in July this year it expires."

Discussions are already underway regarding a renewal, but Tiley knows insurance companies will be more cautions given the circumstances, "We have been covered and we have to be covered in a different way from '21 onwards."


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