Just days before the first serve of the tournament, the US Open announced that it will require proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for those in attendance. The tennis tournament, which kicks off today in Flushing Meadows, New York, announced its decision on Friday, with qualifying play already underway. No restrictions had been put on event entry when tickets went on sale more than two months ago.

“Given the continuing evolution of the Delta variant and in keeping with our intention to put the health and safety of our fans first, the USTA will extend the Mayor’s requirement to all US Open ticket holders 12-years-old and older,” a statement from the USTA says. “Any US Open attendee with tickets to Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, The Grandstand, or the grounds of the US Open, will be required to provide proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to enter the grounds.’’

The shift in plans was attributed to the rising case numbers associated with the Delta variant of COVID-19. Full capacity will still be allowed for the event, a year after the tournament barred in-person spectators for the first time in its 140 year history.

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Masks will also be required for all indoor areas, including if the roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium is closed due to inclement weather.

“We all have seen in a world still dealing with COVID-19 and things began to shift,’’ USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier told The NY Post. “With the release of the Mayor’s Executive Order last week, we, and everyone else in New York City, got further details on identification of indoor public spaces. We began to make adjustments then. Over the past day or so, further evolution on what specifically qualifies as an indoor space became clear, so we needed to further adjust our protocols.“Certainly [it] was never our intent to inconvenience anyone who purchased a ticket, but COVID-19 and the Delta variant are still causing problems and obstacles for all of us, and the U.S. Open will follow all governmental guidelines and do our best to limit any inconveniences to our fans.’’

As a result of the new mandate, unvaccinated ticket holders have the option to get vaccinated (only a first dose is required for entry rather than full vaccination), list their tickets for resale, or contact their point of purchase to see about refund options. Purchasers on the primary marketplace can view options on Ticketmaster’s website. Those who purchased on other marketplaces must contact that vendor to inquire as to their options.

Play at the US Open kicks off with men’s and women’s first round action today, and continues for two weeks, with the women’s singles final schedule for Saturday, September 11 and the men’s final a day later on Sunday, September 12.