Australian Open set for January return

May 19, 2021
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    Novak Djokovic with the trophyNovak Djokovic won the men's singles at the 2021 Australian Open, which was delayed until February

    Australian Open organisers say they are confident the 2022 event will go ahead in its usual January timeslot.

    The 2021 edition was moved back three weeks into February because of the pandemic, with all players required to quarantine for two weeks on arrival.

    There have been forecasts that border closures until mid-2022 could mean the event is relocated to Dubai or Doha.

    But tournament director Craig Tiley said: "We're going to be in Melbourne, it's going to be in January."

    Other problems for the 2021 event included positive coronavirus cases on inbound charter flights which meant 72 players remained confined to their hotel rooms. Those on unaffected flights were only able to leave their rooms for five hours a day to train.

    There was also a cap on attendances at Melbourne Park, and the state of Victoria reverted to full lockdown for five days during the tournament in response to a Covid-19 outbreak.

    Tennis Australia (TA) said it expected the overall financial loss for the staging of this year's tournament to exceed A$78m (about £43m).

    TA chief executive Tiley continued: "We felt like we climbed Mount Everest, and unfortunately now we've found ourselves back at base camp.

    "But the one positive thing is that we at least have a path because we have done it once.

    "There's lots of speculation about 2022, and it's the same journey we are going to go on. It's going to be a ride."

    National broadcaster ABC has reported that the Australian government's forecast of border closures until the middle of next year could force the event to be moved to Doha or Dubai, because players would be unwilling to undergo quarantine again.

    But Tiley said there were no plans to relocate the tournament.

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