Australian Open 2021: Short delay to Grand Slam ‘likely’ says government minister

Sofia Kenin with the Australian Open trophy
Sofia Kenin won her maiden Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 2020

The Australian Open is expected to be postponed by one or two weeks, says a Victoria government minister.

The first Grand Slam of the year is scheduled to take place in Melbourne from 18-31 January 2021.

However, Covid-19 quarantine regulations in Victoria mean players may not be allowed in the state until the end of December at the earliest.

Victoria’s sports minister Martin Pakula said it is “likely to be delayed by a week or two”.

“I still think it’s much more likely that it will be a shorter rather than longer delay,” Pakula added.

Tennis Australia had been hoping players could arrive in Melbourne in mid-December and quarantine for two weeks, before starting the season on 1 January.

If the players have to delay and arrive in late December, they could potentially have enough time to be ready to play in tournaments in the build-up to the Slam.

But while it is likely players will be able to practise during their quarantine, it has not yet been signed off by the state authorities.

“The exact nature of that quarantine, whether or not it’s their own bubble, or something more common, is still part of those conversations,” Pakula said.

“The quarantine requirements will be those that are ultimately agreed with the public health authorities and then it will be a matter for the ATP and the WTA about whether or not they are acceptable.”

The French Open was delayed by four months because of the coronavirus pandemic, while Wimbledon was cancelled in 2020.

Reigning Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic previously asked for “support and understanding”external-link from the government in allowing players to compete before the Slam begins.

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