June 16, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
The US Tennis Open will go ahead in Queens this summer without spectators, Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced.
The competition will be held on its originally scheduled dates of Aug. 31 through to Sept. 13.
“It will be held without fans but we can watch it on TV and I’ll take that,” Cuomo said at his daily press briefing.
The annual tournament had been under threat due to COVID-19 restrictions but Cuomo has given organizers the green light so long as they take extraordinary precautions to protect players and staff.
Cuomo said that the United States Tennis Association has agreed to carry out a number of measures including robust testing. Staff will perform additional cleaning and extra locker room space will be made available. There will also be dedicated housing and transportation for players and officials.
“We must remain vigilant and the USTA is taking all necessary precautions with players and staff, but this is an exciting day for the state,” Cuomo said.
The event will take place at that the Billie Jean King Tennis Center complex in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park, the USTA confirmed.
The organization said it would take all steps necessary to protect both the public and players.
“We recognize the tremendous responsibility of hosting one of the first global sporting events in these challenging times, and we will do so in the safest manner possible, mitigating all potential risks,” USTA Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director Mike Dowse said.
Dowse said that the event will be a massive boost for New York City and for the sport of tennis.
“We now can give fans around the world the chance to watch tennis’ top athletes compete for a US Open title, and we can showcase tennis as the ideal social distancing sport.”
However, some top players have hinted they may not take part due to ongoing concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
The men’s and women’s number 1 ranked players Novak Djokovic and Ashleigh Barty, have expressed reservations about participating, according to reports by ESPN. Defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal has also voiced concerns about playing, the report states.
Meanwhile, Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios called the USTA “selfish” for going ahead with the event, according to his Twitter feed.
The US Open is one of four major or “grand slam” tournaments held every year on the world tennis circuit.
The Australian Open was held earlier this year while Wimbledon in the UK has been canceled due to COVID-19. The French Open has been postponed until September.