MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Tennis Australia is still awaiting confirmation from the Victorian state government on its plans for the Australian Open amid reports that the season-opening major will be delayed by three weeks and not start until Feb. 8.
“There have been many reports, but we don't have final details yet signed off by the Victorian government yet," a Tennis Australia spokeswoman told the Associated Press.
Melbourne's The Age newspaper and others reported a letter sent by Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley to players which made reference to a Feb. 8 start date. The tournament was scheduled for Jan. 18-31 at Melbourne Park, which is the tournament's regular slot late in the southern summer holidays.
“It’s taken a while, but the great news is it looks like we are going to be able to hold the AO 8 February," Tiley was quoted as saying.
Players will have to quarantine for two weeks from Jan. 15, but the Victorian Government has reportedly agreed to special conditions for players. Organizers also are offering to pay for charter flights, quarantine costs and accommodation.
Tiley had previously said players will likely quarantine in a downtown hotel and ride sealed transport to Melbourne Park so they could train during a 14-day quarantine period ahead of the tournament.
Having the tournament any earlier than the second week of February would reduce the chances of having any competitive leadup matches before the Grand Slam event.
Last week, the Victorian sports minister Martin Pakula said the Australian Open would “most likely” be delayed by a week or two.
“There’s a number of potential dates on the table. I’ve seen reports that suggest that it’s likely to be delayed by a week or two. I think that’s still most likely,” Pakula said.
Victoria was hard-hit by a second wave of COVID-19, forcing the city of Melbourne into a lengthy lockdown, a night curfew and travel and other restrictions in the state. But despite more than 800 deaths during that time, the state has had no new infections for 34 consecutive days.
The delay and quarantine period would place into doubt many of the warmup tournaments ahead of the Australian Open.
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports