The Australian Open could be delayed by up to two weeks and staged away from its Melbourne home over Covid-19 fears according to news reports.
According to the Tennis Channel, Victoria’s government will not allow players to arrive in mid-December, potentially affecting the start of the Australian Open qualifying event scheduled for Tuesday, 12 January.
With players required to quarantine on arrival, Tennis Australia had hoped they would be able to practice during the 14-day quarantine, before two weeks of action leading into the Australian Open.
The BBC reports that players may, however, be allowed into Australia at the very end of December.
This would potentially give them enough time to be ready to start the Australian Open qualifying event.
But that would mean players will be able to practice during their quarantine – something which has not yet been signed off by the state authorities.
Players could also be allowed to compete during the period of quarantine, as happened in New York in the run up to the US Open.
Another possibility according to reports, is that the Australian Open may be pushed back by a week or two, to allow the warm-up events to go ahead as planned.
This would mean adjustments in start dates for the events that normally take place in early February, but with the Australian Open being the first major of the year, it is extremely likely that all stops will be pulled to ensure it holds without hiccups.
Tournament organisers could also reduce the size of the draws, to minimize the number of people coming into the country.
There was no qualifying, for example, at September’s US Open and there was no mixed doubles competition in either New York or at the French Open which followed.