Australian Open must have secure ‘training bubble’, says chief executive
Australian Open chief executive Chris Tiley wants players arriving for the Grand Slam to be exempt from 14-day hotel quarantines in favour of a secure ‘training bubble’.
Tiley has stated that he remains “absolutely confident” that the Australian Open will go ahead at Melbourne Park from January 18-31, along with the precursor events including the men’s ATP Cup and tournaments in Brisbane, Sydney and Hobart.
The chief executive has pleaded for Australia’s governing bodies to relax border restrictions and grant special approval for players in order to create a bio-secure training bubble, which was utilised at both the US Open and the French Open in recent months.
“If a player has to be stuck in a hotel for two weeks just before their season, that won’t happen,” Tiley said.
“You can’t ask players to quarantine for two weeks and then step out and be ready to play a grand slam.”
“We completely accept that everyone coming from overseas has got to have two weeks in quarantine but what we are negotiating is that we set up a quarantine environment where they can train and go between the hotel and the courts in those two weeks.”
At the US Open and French Open, players did not need to quarantine, but had to operate in a bio-secure bubble and undergo frequent Covid-19 tests before being allowed to compete.
Melbourne has been hit heavily by the pandemic, with a second wave enforcing overnight curfews and a six-week lockdown for its 5 million population. Despite this, organisers are still considering the possibility of having up to a 50% capacity, with social distancing regulations enforced.
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