As the feasibility of the Australian Open was called into question, Novak Djokovic urged the Victorian government to allow players to participate during their quarantine time. With the caveat that most players will arrive in the country in the middle of December to complete a mandatory two-week quarantine before playing in warm-up events for the inaugural 2021 Grand Slam in the first two weeks of January, Tennis Australia, the ATP and the WTA had expected.
Earlier this week, when he revealed the warm-up events will all be held in Victoria to prevent issues with players moving between states, Tournament Director Craig Tiley struck a positive tone. Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has previously said that nothing is off the table as far as scheduling is concerned (John Walton/PA) But Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews replied quickly that it was not “a done deal” and it was announced on Tuesday night that players would possibly not be permitted to join Australia at the earliest until late December. Consequently, a two-week quarantine will leave less than a week before the expected start of the Australian Open on 18 January. It was expected that during those two weeks, players will be able to practice but not play tournaments – a position Djokovic hopes would be relaxed: “I definitely plan to play the Australian Open. I’d love to go there and I’m willing to go into quarantine for two weeks and do whatever it takes to play. View this post on InstagramA post shared by Novak Djokovic (@djokernole)” As far as the schedule is concerned, Tiley has previously said that nothing is off the table and raised the possibility that the Australian Open might be moved back a week or two, but that would be a massive logistical task too close to the event and would have a major effect on the subsequent tournaments. #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/j9cPNhbxxb- Channel9 (@Channel9) November 11, 2020A statement from organizers read, “Tennis Australia continues to work closely with the Victorian government to host the Australian Open. “The health and welfare of the community, players and everyone involved in the event has always been a top priority, and we recognize all Victo’s amazing efforts and sacrifices. “We will provide further updates as they become available. “This is the first day since early March that we’ve reported two zero days. This is your Victoria. Let’s keep going.- Dan Andrews (@DanielAndrewsMP) October 26, 2020 With the players, Tiley is famous, and while there is discontent with the situation, they are sympathetic to both the organizers’ problems and the Australian government’s caution. World number seven Alexander Zverev said, “I hope we can find a way to play a week or two before the Australian Open, but in general I hope the Australian Open happens because everything is so uncertain at the moment. I think they are trying their best. I think the Australian government is very careful. If suddenly 3,000 people come to Australia, there will be cases, it can’t be avoided. ” Victoria was Australia’s worst affected state, but there have been 19 days without new cases now and officials are understandably worried about what the effect could be when hundreds of tennis players and related workers from around the world are admitted. “This is incredibly complex. We’re confident we’ll get the Australian Open done, it’s a very important event, but there’s a lot of work to be done to make sure it’s as safe as possible. Whether there will be preparatory tournaments, that’s still to be worked out.”