USTA still working to host US Open on time and in New York
The US Tennis Association is still confident that the US Open, the hard court grand slam which traditionally takes place in New York each September, will be staged on time and in the city.
The tournament, according to the game’s national governing body, is still scheduled to take place between 31 August and 13 September, at its established home, the Billie Jean King Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.
The coronavirus pandemic has already caused the French Open at Roland Garros to be postponed, and the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London (originally set for late June to early July) to be cancelled for 2020, and reports in recent weeks had suggested that the US Open would follow suit, especially given that New York has been a hotspot of the virus in the US.
Now, however, Stacey Allaster, chief executive for professional tennis at the USTA, has told media: “We continue to be… 150 per cent focused on staging a safe environment for conducting a US Open… in New York on our dates. The idea of an alternative venue, an alternative date - we’ve got a responsibility to explore it, but it doesn’t have a lot of momentum.”
She also said it was looking “less and less likely” that the event would be held with spectators present.
New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said last month that he was discussing with sporting organisations how venues in that state could re-open, albeit without fans, and how sport could be played there again.
The US Open accounts for more than 80 per cent of the USTA’s annual revenue, and the organisation was reportedly evaluating several alternative venues and timeframes over recent recent weeks and months.
Orlando in Florida and Indian Wells in California were both suggested as possible alternatives, if New York proves too unsafe.
Allaster added, however, that players coming into what would likely be a bio-secure area in New York would be subject to rigorous testing and other regulations.
The US government’s Department of Homeland Security recently issued a provision for some foreign athletes, including tennis players, to be exempted from current entry bans into the country which have been imposed because of the virus’ spread.
There has been no professional tennis worldwide since mid-March, and last month the ATP and WTA Tours, the top men’s and women’s tennis tours respectively, extended their suspension of tournaments well into July.
The French Open has been postponed until late September, and last week Jean-Francois Vilotte, the director general of the French Tennis Federation, said he hoped to welcome fans to the event: “We want there to be fans, who respect protective measures.”