Covid-19 claims both Australian Open golf events

SYDNEY • The men's and women's Australian Open golf tournaments fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic yesterday, with both cancelled due to travel restrictions.

Golf Australia had already pushed back this year's men's event in Sydney from next month to late January or February, but it has now been called off entirely.

The women's 2022 tournament, a stop on the elite LPGA Tour, was due to be played in Adelaide in February but that too has been canned as Australia's international borders remain closed to most travellers.

"The decision has not been made lightly but we believe it to be the right outcome under the current circumstances," said Golf Australia chief James Sutherland.

"The international element means shifting quarantine and travel restrictions wreak havoc on planning and, with our marquee players living abroad, the challenge is even greater."

It is the second year in a row that the men's Australian Open has not been played. Won previously by the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Rory McIlroy, it was cancelled last year for the first time since 1945.

But Golf Australia said it still intended to run the innovative Vic Open from Feb 10 to 13, although without international sanctioning.

It is the only event on the world's professional golf tours where men and women tee off in alternate groups on the same course, and is usually joint-sanctioned by the men's European Tour and LPGA Tour. The Australian PGA Championship is also set to go ahead in Queensland from Jan 13 to 16.

The cancellation of golf's Australian Opens is in contrast to tennis' Australian Open in Melbourne, where the Grand Slam is set to take place from Jan 17 to 30, even for unvaccinated players, who will likely be subject to tougher restrictions.

Victoria's Sports Minister Martin Pakula said on Tuesday that players should get vaccinated to give themselves the best chance of competing in Melbourne.

Tennis Australia has declined to comment on arrangements for players based on their vaccination status. However, inoculated players are expected to be given more freedom and may also be able to skip the country's mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2021, with the headline 'Covid-19 claims both Australian Open golf events'. Subscribe