Australian Open 2020

Organising 2022 Australian Open is ‘ten times harder’ than last year, reveals tournament head

Craig Tiley has outlined the challenges faced when organising the upcoming Australian Open, saying the focus is on “keeping the players and staff from getting any variants.”

This year, 1,000 players and staff arrived from abroad and were subsequently placed under a two-week long quarantine for the 2021 ‘Happy Slam.’

However, 3,300 players and staff will arrive in January for next year’s tournament and will be able to roam the city freely when they return a negative PCR test.

With Australia’s border still closed for the 2021 edition, Tennis Australia spent heavily on various biosecurity measures to ensure the first Grand Slam of the season could go ahead.

In the 15 months surrounding this year’s tournament, Tennis Australia lost A$100 million ($72 million American dollars or £54 million pounds.)

Whilst the requirement to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 may prove difficult to manage, Tennis Australia may be able to recoup some of the A$100 million they lost as full capacity crowds will be permitted to Melbourne Park for the first time since 2020.

As the newly-discovered Omicron variant spreads across the country as the first set of players begin to arrive, Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley recognised that there would be further challenges to contend with.

A number of players have tested positive following the Abu Dhabi Exhibition, including 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal, Swiss Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic, and US Open winner Emma Raducanu.

Although, Tiley remains confident players who contract Covid-19 now will be healthy in time for the ‘Happy Slam.’

Australian Open tournament director Tiley said “2022 has been ten times harder than 2021. It was a walk in the park in comparison to this one.

“2021 was hard but it hasn’t been easy. [There have been] so many variables. It’s something new, but you wake up in the morning with your team and you just hope they hang in there.

“If they [players and staff] are sharing a room with someone, or they’re in the same apartment and someone in that group tests positive, everyone in that room or that apartment has to isolate for seven days.

“So the advice we’ve given the players, it’s a simple one, ‘get your own room.’

“In 2021 we were about protecting the community from the players which were coming from environments that were ravaged with the virus that we didn’t have.

“In 2022, it’s about keeping the players and our patrons on site from not getting Omicron, not getting any variants of the virus.”

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