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Organizers optimistic about Australian Open despite coronavirus measures

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Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has moved to allay fears that the season-opening tennis grand slam and its build-up tournaments could be hampered by strict biosecurity protocols to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Tiley said on Sunday that Tennis Australia was still “working hard to finish tennis summer as soon as possible” after the Victorian state government said this week that nothing had been confirmed around the tournaments.

“We are working closely with the Victorian Government on a plan that takes into account the needs of the players, fans, our partners and staff and is of great benefit to the Victorian and Australian economies,” Tiley added in a statement.

“We continue our urgent discussions with local health authorities about quarantine and biosecurity requirements and are confident that we will make decisions soon.”

Victoria has just emerged from a protracted lockdown following a rampant re-emergence of the coronavirus, while Australia is basically closed to international arrivals.

However, Tennis Australia (TA) said earlier this week that they planned for players and their entourages to come Down Under in mid-December, spend two weeks in mandatory quarantine, and then start playing in early January.

They had also planned to move all build-up tournaments to Victoria, but the state government gave that idea short, saying they hadn’t even confirmed whether the Grand Slam could go ahead.

Tiley, however, remained optimistic on Sunday.

“Our intention is to deliver a summer under conditions where the players can prepare and perform at their best and the fans can enjoy their efforts – all in an environment that is safe for everyone involved,” he said.

“Tennis Australia is well aware of the need for certainty, but also of reaching a solution with the state government.”

The Australian Open kicks off January 18 in Melbourne Park.

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