The US Open is scheduled to invade New York City August 31 through September 13. Despite challenges presented by the coronavirus, a tournament official has revealed how those dates could go on as planned.
USTA chief executive for professional tennis Stacey Allaster shared contingency plans with the Associated Press, which could potentially prevent the grand slam from canceling its 2020 event. According to Allaster, the USTA has discussed the possibility of limiting the number of on-court officials, using charter flights to bring athletes to New York, requiring negative COVID-19 tests prior to traveling and using centralized housing for players. Additional plans call for no locker room access except on match days, daily temperature checks and no spectators in the stands.
“The fundamental goal here is to mitigate risk,” Allaster said. “We are spending a lot of time and energy on all the models, including no fans on site. The government will help guide us.”
As sports leagues worldwide plot their return, most events are resuming behind closed doors to start at the recommendation of health and local authorities. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has expressed his desire to bring sports back to the forefront and agreed to allow for fan-free events in the state.
While New York has been the country’s epicenter for the virus, USTA officials have considered the possibility of relocating the US Open to either California or Florida and stage the tournament late in the year. However, Allaster maintains that the New York plan remains the most likely at the moment.
“We continue to be, I would say, 150% focused on staging a safe environment for conducting a U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on our dates,” Allaster said. “It’s all I wake up — our team wakes up — thinking about. The idea of an alternative venue, an alternative date … we’ve got a responsibility to explore it, but it doesn’t have a lot of momentum.”
Nonetheless, no official plan is set in motion with Allaster claiming that such discussions are “still fluid.” A formal decision from the USTA is expected to be announced later this month.
Should the tournament occur as planned, it would become the year’s second grand slam despite traditionally serving as the fourth and final major of the calendar year. The French Open has been rescheduled for late September while Wimbledon was cancelled altogether.