The Australian Open will almost certainly be pushed back for months. Picture: Michael Klein
The Australian Open will almost certainly be pushed back for months. Picture: Michael Klein

Aus Open delayed until later in the year

The Australian Open is almost certain not to begin on its scheduled 2021 start date of January 18.

But the opening Grand Slam of the year is only expected to shuffle down the calendar a few weeks, rather than months, and take place at Melbourne Park in February or early March.

The Australian Open has not been held outside of January since 1987.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Saturday the exact timing of the event is "not settled yet".

"I am very confident we will have an Aussie Open in the early part of next year," Andrews said.

"The exact timing of it, the exact arrangements we put in place, they are not settled yet and as soon as they are settled, I will be more than happy to share it with you."

It has already been announced that the Australian Open junior championships won't go ahead in a bid to reduce the number of players, staff, and officials - which usually number 1500 - who descend on Melbourne.

 

Tennis Australia was thrown a curve ball last week when it was revealed the Victorian government would prevent any players arriving in Melbourne - and beginning a mandatory two-week period of quarantine - until the start of January.

There was also uncertainty about whether the world's best players would be able to train while in a quarantine "bubble" rather than the strict hotel style lockdown.

Andrews said the state government was working "very closely" with TA who are "in turn" working with the sponsors, broadcast and global partners.

"This is not a simple issue," he said.

"What was important yesterday was to confirm that from the seventh of next month we can have flights return to Melbourne and a hotel quarantine system will be reset, set up at that point.

The Vic government told Tennis Australia it would prevent players arriving for quarantine until January. Picture: Michael Klein
The Vic government told Tennis Australia it would prevent players arriving for quarantine until January. Picture: Michael Klein

"This is not a simple thing though, to have many hundreds or indeed potentially well more than 1000 athletes and others who support them, media, being here for a very important event.

"It has to be done safely, it has to be done right."

There is clean air in the sporting calendar throughout February with the AFL confirming this week it would start the 2021 AFL season on March 18.

The Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park is scheduled for March 18-21.

Australian doubles great Todd Woodbridge said moving the two-week event to another spot in the calendar remained possible.

"I don't think that's an outcome we would be wanting," Woodbridge told the ABC.

"But stranger things have happened in 2020, haven't they? Roland Garros - being played in September instead of May, even in the golf world the [US] Masters recently just finished a week ago and of course that's played in April normally.

"These are all things that at some point you would have said 'no, that's not possible'.

"[But] financially, to sustain these events, you can't lose a year. There's so much at stake."

Originally published as Aus Open delayed until later in the year

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