Australian Open 2021: Craig Tiley optimistic tournament will go ahead | Tennis News

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However, Tiley confirmed that they would consult with the main tours if they were forced to reschedule, rather than act independently like French Open organisers, who moved their event from May to the end of September.

There has been uncertainty about whether fans will be able to attend in 2021, but Tiley is confident that 400,000 spectators can be welcomed into Melbourne Park - half of the figure that attended this year's showpiece.

"We're going to open our bio bubble from the first of December and players can come at any time," Tennis Australia's chief executive said.

"We've established a strategy and an operational plan for all our fans and how they will be positioned around the site," Tiley continued.

"When the players arrive, our expectation is they're not going to be in a hotel for 14 days like the current requirements are. We'll have an exemption within this bio-secure bubble.

The city has played host to the season-opening Grand Slam since 1972 and preparations for next year are continuing, with tournament director Craig Tiley also insisting the $71m (£54.4m) prize purse will not be reduced, irrespective of a potential decrease in turnover and revenue.

Melbourne is currently in a full lockdown following a second spike in Covid-19 cases.

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I'm optimistic and positive that we'll have an event and it'll be in Melbourne.

"I'm optimistic and positive that we'll have an event and it'll be in Melbourne. It will have some crowds and it'll be the beginning of kind of getting back to the way we were."

Tiley said organisers had employed a 'global expert' to help set up the bio-security bubbles and testing facilities in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne, which will allow players to acclimatise and train for the event.

The site, which covers an area of approximately 2.5 kilometres, will allow organisers to enforce social distancing, while the wearing of masks will be mandatory.

"It was a great start-up event; it was massively successful. We are planning on having it in three cities and we're working with those cities.

The $15m ATP Cup, a joint venture between the men's tour and TA, debuted last year at the heart of a reshuffled Australian Open warm-up schedule, which also included women's events in Adelaide, Brisbane and Hobart.

Tennis Australia established a crisis management team due to the bushfire smoke that threatened the 2020 tournament, and they have put a series of plans in place for each potential scenario ahead of next January.

"We are talking a lot to the ATP every week. We both want to run it," Tiley said.

"Scenario three was behind closed doors, a broadcast-only event. Scenario four was moving to another time of the year, and scenario five is no event at all," he added.

Since Novak Djokovic was crowned 2020 champion in January, Tiley and his team have been drawing up a series of strategies to ensure that the 2021 edition can go ahead.

The 24-nation men's team competition proved popular but, along with every other sporting event in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a question mark over whether it can go ahead in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney in 2021.

The Australian winter would rule out the months of May to July as prospective windows, although March-April or September-October could both provide viable alternatives.

"We've got a lot of work to do logistically to make this all work. We need to make sure the players are safe. But I think they're going to be pretty hungry to want to play some tennis with some crowds by the time we get to January."

Ticket sales are set to start in October and five 'bio-secure bubbles' will be opened across the country six weeks before the tournament begins to allow players to avoid the most restrictive quarantine measures upon arrival.

"We've said every year that we're the 'happy slam'. But now we're saying we're the 'very safe and happy slam.'"

Meanwhile, the second edition of the ATP Cup remains scheduled to take place in January and Tennis Australia is considering adding more events alongside it to allow players to prepare for the Australian Open, said Tiley.

Australian Open organisers are confident that the 2021 tournament will be hosted in its usual January slot with full prize money and supporters in attendance, despite fears that it could be moved to later in the year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The first scenario was the event being held in much the same way as 2020, while the second was a tournament with limited crowds, Tiley confirmed.