Queensland loses Brisbane International

 

Queensland will lose its flagship tennis tournaments next year under a coronavirus-induced shake-up that will see at least five major tennis events and the Australian Open held in Victoria.

Tennis Australia said the decision was made to move every big tennis tournament of the summer to Victoria after states could not commit to open travel between cities.

The decision means Queensland will miss out on its two biggest tennis events - the Brisbane International and the ATP Cup - which were due to be held in January.

Tennis Australia has taken the step of transferring the showpieces previously scheduled to be held in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Can­berra and Hobart to ensure the world's best players are in Melbourne for the Open.

 

 

Aussie star Ash Barty will be a major drawcard in Melbourne during the summer of tennis.
Aussie star Ash Barty will be a major drawcard in Melbourne during the summer of tennis.

 

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said tennis chiefs "had to make a decision to move everything to Melbourne" because other states could not guarantee player quarantine arrangements or make a "commitment of open travel between cities".

Also, international players previously ­expected to fly into other Australian capitals to quarantine will now travel directly to Melbourne and enter a two-week "bubble''.

Players, expected to arrive in Melbourne in mid-December and stay until February, will be allowed to play and train but be restricted to hotels or the tennis court until they have completed quarantine.

More than 550 players from around the world will have to twice test negative for COVID-19 before being allowed into the bubble. But they will be free to move around Victoria once quarantine is completed and join a restricted amount of fans at Melbourne Park for the Open.

"The Australian Open will be played in an open environment with players moving around freely, as well as fans - at least up to 25 per cent,'' Mr Tiley said. "There is now no risk of the Australian Open going ahead without everyone in Victoria and we didn't have that guarantee previously."

Mr Tiley said lead-up events to the Open would be "redesigned'' and there could be even more events staged after the Open.

"Now it's a matter of working out with the Victorian ­government what the quarantining program looks like, that it ensures the safety of the community and then of course the safety of the players coming in,'' he said.

Queensland announced capacity crowds of up to 52,000 would be allowed for Game 3 of the State of Origin series in Brisbane on Wednesday.

Mr Tiley hoped bigger ­tennis crowds than currently forecast would be permitted.

"I'm pretty confident that if we are sitting at zero and keep it zero all the way through to January, I think the government will look differently at crowds," he said.

Mr Tiley compared confining the summer of tennis to Melbourne to the AFL restricting much of its season to Queensland.

"But we have a very different construct to the AFL and cricket because we are bringing in a lot of international people and their entourage so we've got to ensure they stay on a very rigid, tough lockdown," he said.

 

Melbourne Park could host tournaments, subject to ATP and WTA approval.
Melbourne Park could host tournaments, subject to ATP and WTA approval.

 

peter.rolfe@news.com.au

@rolfep

 

Originally published as Queensland loses Brisbane International



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