'New challenges' hit Australian Open warm-up events throwing season start into question

In a message to players the ATP, the men's tennis tour, said arrivals originally planned for December were now uncertain, potentially disrupting the packed January schedule.

Agence France-Presse November 18, 2020 16:35:26 IST
'New challenges' hit Australian Open warm-up events throwing season start into question

ATP Cup is one of the warm-up events before the Australian Open. Getty Images

Melbourne: Lead-up events to the Australian Open tennis Grand Slam were thrown into doubt Wednesday after organisers flagged "new challenges" around players arriving in the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a message to players the ATP, the men's tennis tour, said arrivals originally planned for December were now uncertain, potentially disrupting the packed January schedule.

With players facing a 14-day quarantine, any delay could make it difficult to hold the high-profile ATP Cup and other tournaments before the Australian Open's scheduled start on 18 January in Melbourne.

"In discussions with Tennis Australia over the past 24 hours, we have been informed there are some new challenges around the previously planned arrival dates for players and team members," read the ATP's message, which was tweeted by world number 193 Lukas Lacko.

"We understand there is uncertainty about the start of the 2021 season, and we are working as hard as possible to deliver the best possible calendar of events," the ATP added.

International travel to Australia is still tightly controlled and all overseas arrivals must quarantine for two weeks, while individual states also have their own coronavirus restrictions.

It's also unclear whether players will be allowed to train during quarantine.

Tennis Australia on Monday flagged plans to move warm-up events from Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Hobart, Adelaide and Canberra to the state of Victoria, to mitigate against any possible state border closures.

But Victoria's state premier Dan Andrews said the move was "not a done deal", particularly since Melbourne only recently emerged from a month-long lockdown.

Australia has been relatively successful in containing the virus, with just over 27,700 cases and 907 deaths recorded since the pandemic began.

But an outbreak in South Australia, which neighbours Victoria, triggered a six-day lockdown Wednesday as officials rush to contain a cluster in Adelaide.

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