No fans, players quarantined? Australian Open 2021 provides glimpse of what future sports events could look like after coronavirus pandemic


The coronavirus pandemic has led to the cancellation of many tennis events including Wimbledon this year

The recent pandemic coronavirus outbreak has resulted in the suspension and cancellation of sporting events, including the ones in tennis.

Major sporting events such as Wimbledon and 2020 Tokyo Olympics had been at the receiving end of this crisis. The former was cancelled and the latter postponed until June next year.

Dunlop tennis balls being used at the 2020 Australian Open (Getty Images)
The Australian Open 2021 is considering the possibility of making new contingency plans ahead of next year’s tournament due to the coronavirus crisis. (Getty Images)

In the wake of this, Tennis Australia is the most recent sporting body to grab the headlines, as they are planning contingencies for the upcoming Australian Open next year if the current crisis is still to prevail.

According to Tennis Australia CEO, the Australian Open 2021 is preparing to list out a few measures if the tournament cannot go ahead as normal in January next year.

The measures might include the possibility of international players having to undergo quarantine, or for the tournament to go ahead without fans in the stadiums, as of now.

Big changes planned ahead

“There is just so much uncertainty as to what is going to happen in the next month let alone the next eight months. These extraordinary times dictate a need for agility and extensive planning that explores a very wide range of options.” Tiley said in a statement on Tuesday.

“For example, with such a high-dependency on international travel we are looking at what we might have to do if players need to be quarantined for any length of time before being allowed to freely move around Australia.”

“Another example is if mass gatherings are still not allowed or severely restricted next year. We are looking at the possibility of running an event for broadcast. These are just two of many scenarios we have to examine,” he opined.

The ATP had earlier suspended all tennis-related activities until at least 13th of July this year. However, considering the speed with which the virus is spreading, this could change in the near future.

ATP and WTA examining contingency plans

Meanwhile, the ATP and the WTA are considering the possibility of new contingency plans for post-coronavirus rescheduling.

The coronavirus outbreak has severely affected the 2020 ATP and WTA tennis schedule
The ATP has suspended all tennis-related activities until July 13 in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. (Getty Images)

This may even include the possibility of pushing the season beyond the already decided ending date of November. Both tennis bodies announced that they were working together to set up a new calendar for the year.

One of the plans is to move the postponed tournaments in-between weeks and prolonging the season. However, nothing concrete has come out recently but an update is expected midway in May.

This could provide a glimpse of what future events look like. No fans, players locked down and fewer media outlets covering the clash.

Sport needs to restart as it provides a livelihood to many, but just when can these risks be taken is to be seen.

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