Charter flights to transport US open tennis players. USA And limited groups from Europe, South America, and the Middle East to New York. Negative tests of COVID-19 before traveling. Centralized housing. Daily temperature controls.
There are no spectators. Fewer officials on the court. There is no access to the changing rooms on practice days.
All are among the scenarios being considered for the US Open. USA 2020, if celebrated amid the coronavirus pandemic, and a senior official described it to The Associated Press at the Grand Slam tournament.
“All of this is still smooth,” Stacey Allaster, executive director of professional tennis for the American Tennis Association, said in a telephone interview on Saturday. “We have not made any decisions at all.”
With that warning, Allaster added that if the USTA board decides to go ahead with the Open, they expect it to be held in its usual place and in its usual place on the calendar. The main draw is scheduled to begin on August 31.
“We continue, I would say, 150% focused on organizing a safe environment to hold a United States Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on our dates.” It’s all that wakes me up, our team wakes up, thinking, “Allaster said.” The idea of an alternative place, an alternative date … we have a responsibility to explore it, but it doesn’t have much momentum. “
An announcement should come from “mid-June to the end of June,” Allaster said.
All authorized competition has been suspended by the ATP, WTA and the International Tennis Federation since March and is on hold until the end of July.
The French Open was postponed from May to September; Wimbledon was canceled for the first time since 1945.
There is no established COVID-19 protocol for tennis, a global sport with multiple governing bodies.
“Everyone would agree with the fundamental principles, I am sure: protect the health of the participants, follow local laws and minimize the risk of transmission of the virus,” said Stuart Miller, who oversees the ITF’s return to tennis. politics. “But then you have to dig into the specific details.”
One of those details: the USTA wants to add locker rooms, even on covered courts that housed hundreds of temporary hospital beds at the height of the New York coronavirus outbreak, and improve air filtration in existing spaces. Also considered: there is no access to the locker room until just before a game. So if someone goes to Flushing Meadows just to train, Allaster said, “You come, you practice, and you go back to the hotel.”
The USTA presented its operational plan to a medical advisory group on Friday; it will now be discussed with city, state, and federal government officials.
“The fundamental objective here is to mitigate risk,” said Allaster.
Governors across the country, like New York’s Andrew Cuomo, who are open to allowing professional sports to resume, say that should be without fans.
“We are spending a lot of time and energy on all models, even without fans on site,” said Allaster. “The government will help guide us.”
In 2019, around 850,000 people attended the US open site. USA From the week before the main draw until the final.
Lew Sherr, director of revenue for the USTA, told the AP that viewers are “less and less likely” to be at the US Open this year.
That, Sherr said, means “giving up ticketing revenue, giving up hospitality revenue, giving up a portion of your sponsorship revenue.” But the television fees and digital rights, plus the remaining sponsorship dollars, are “significant enough that it is worth going through with a US Open without fans,” he said.
Other areas that Allaster addressed:
Having the best three-set matches in men’s singles “has hardly been discussed,” he said. “If the players came up to us and said, ‘That is something we want to do,’ we would consider it. But we will not make a unilateral decision on that without the input of the players.”
Before traveling to New York, players would need proof of a negative COVID-19 test. “Once they enter our, say, ‘US Open World,'” Allaster said, “there will be a combination of daily health questionnaires, daily temperature checks, and … some nasal or saliva or antibody tests.” .
Paris, Vienna, Frankfurt, Buenos Aires and Dubai are among the cities where players can catch a flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport on an airline that is a member of the tournament. Afterwards, players could be taken to where they play next; Tournament sites in late September could include Paris, Madrid or Rome.
“A player who comes with an entourage of five, six, seven, eight is not something that is in the plan,” said Allater. One possibility: tournaments could provide physical therapists and massage therapists so that players do not bring their own.
Parties could use fewer line judges than usual, with a greater reliance on line calling technology. “It is difficult,” said Allaster. “Obviously, we want to make sure we have the highest level of integrity.”
The current plan is to have them, adults only, not children.