Australian Open dates expected within 2 weeks

MELBOURNE, Australia - Tennis Australia says the dates for next year’s Australian Open in Melbourne should be known within two weeks.

Chief executive Craig Tiley was responding on Sunday to unsourced reports the season-opening grand slam event might be pushed back until February, March or even later.

The tournament is scheduled to start on Jan. 18. But questions remain over quarantine arrangements for players and their entourages — an estimated 2,500 people.

In a statement Tiley said Tennis Australia is “doing everything we can to finalize the summer of tennis as soon as possible.”

“Our intention is to deliver a summer in conditions that allow the players to prepare and perform at their best and the fans to enjoy their efforts — all in an environment that is safe for all concerned,” he said.

Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews has said is government is working to smooth out any quarantine issues. The government’s previous reluctance to allow players to arrive before Jan. 1 had been a stumbling block to confirming tournament dates.

With a requirement to complete 14 days in managed isolation, players might not have been released until days before matches began.

“We are working closely with the Victorian Government on a plan that takes into account the needs of the players, fans, our partners and staff and is of major benefit to the Victorian and Australian economies,” Tiley said.

“We are continuing our urgent talks with local health authorities regarding quarantining and bio-security requirements and are confident we will have decisions soon.”

Tiley said TA is “acutely aware” of the need for certainty but also of reaching a solution with the state government that ensures the safety of the entire community.

“We look forward to announcing our ticket on-sale date as soon as all arrangements with the relevant authorities are finalized and we have more information on crowd sizes. We anticipate this on-sale date will be within the next two weeks,” he said.

Tiley said reports the tournament might be delayed, even as late as April, are “speculation.”

Melbourne, Australia’s second-largest city, was hard-hit by COVID-19 during the winter but has now gone 23 days without a new infection.
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