(Reuters) — Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said he was prepared to “climb Mount Everest” again to keep the Grand Slam at Melbourne Park next year after a report said it might have to be moved.
State broadcaster ABC reported on Monday a government forecast that Australia’s borders would be closed until mid-2022 could force the relocation of the tournament to Dubai or Doha as players would not be prepared to undergo quarantine again.
Tiley, who oversaw the strict 14-day quarantine of players and officials to get this year’s Australian Open played against huge odds, said there were no plans to relocate the 2022 tournament.
“We’re going to be here in Melbourne, we are going to make it work, it’s going to be in January,” the Tennis Australia chief executive told local media on Monday.
“We’re going to find a way to get the players here who are currently travelling the world in a bubble.
“We are the only country where quarantine is required. We’ve got a find a way to manage that and we will.”
Australia has been relatively successful in containing COVID-19 and the government sees strict restrictions on those who are able to enter the country as a key part of their strategy.
Tiley said he had learned a lot about how to plan a tournament during a pandemic earlier this year, when the Australian Open was successfully completed in front of reduced, and sometimes no, spectators.
“The two enemies, mass gatherings and international travel, COVID doesn’t allow those two things to happen, and those are the pillars of our success,” the South African added.
“Being able to get around that was a challenge. 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.
“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.”