Australian Open boss Craig Tiley has reached out to players to reassure them of a Feb. 8 tournament start date despite a COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne as well as accommodation and transport issues.
International players are due to start arriving from Jan. 15 but Open organisers are still locking in charter flights.
They are planning to transport players to Melbourne on up to 20 flights which will be limited to 20 percent capacity, leaving from Dubai, Singapore and Los Angeles.
“There have been some unavoidable delays finalising flight details for players and I’d like to take this opportunity to provide an update,” Tiley posted on Twitter.
“There are a lot of pieces to this logistical puzzle and the last few are being finalised right now.
“We appreciate your patience and are conscious that time timelines are very tight.
“We are doing our utmost to get the flight details to the entire playing group as soon as possible.”
A replacement hotel needed to be found this week after the contract with The Westin in Melbourne was cancelled when several penthouse owners raised concerns about the quarantine plans and threatened legal action.
With a case linked to the Boxing Day cricket Test at the MCG on Wednesday, Tiley moved to reassure the community that the tournament wouldn’t put public health at risk.
On the advice of biosecurity exports, they plan to split crowds into three zones to minimise movement around Melbourne Park, and every seat is an assigned seat to assist with contact tracing.
Currently at 35 percent capacity, Tiley said tennis officials were open to having no crowds but considered it a worst-case scenario.
He said there was no chance the event would be cancelled.
“Clearly, if there is significant community spread at the time, the government will make decisions on reducing those crowd numbers, or not,” Tiley told radio station 3AW.
“Those are the things we’ve got to be ready to change at any point.
“We are not going to put an event on that is going to be unsafe for the community.”
The players will be tested before they get on the plane and then tested every day during their 14 days in quarantine, although after a negative test on day two here will be are allowed out to practice for five hours until the tournament begins.
“When they come of their 14 days there’s no way they are going to be in a position where they are going to be spreading the virus,” Tiley said.
He said there would be ball-kids at the Open, with “emphatic evidence” that the virus couldn’t be transferred via the ball.