US Open safety plans 'on track'

NEW YORK • US Open organisers have full confidence in their safety plans a month before the hard-court Grand Slam starts, even as the coronavirus pandemic worsens across the United States.

The US Tennis Association (USTA) said on Friday it is "continuing its plans to stage the US Open" as well as the Western & Southern Open tune-up event the week before.

"We remain confident that our top priority, the health and safety of all involved in both tournaments, remains on track," an official statement read.

But exactly what those health and safety details are remains unknown, with the Major set to begin behind closed doors on Aug 31 in a "bubble" quarantine setting at the National Tennis Centre.

The USTA has said it will release details of its health and safety plans "at a later date closer to the tournaments", pointing out it has worked with both the ATP and WTA Tours to cover all the bases.

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic and world No. 2 Rafael Nadal have entered the Western and Southern Open, but have yet to confirm their attendance at the US Open.

Former women's No. 1s Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka have committed to playing in the US Open, but top-ranked Ashleigh Barty will skip it over Covid-19 fears. New York was the first major US hot spot for the virus, with conditions so severe that a temporary hospital was established on the grounds of the US Tennis Centre in March.

But cases have been at a more manageable level in recent months, although it remains a concern that people visiting from other outbreak areas across the country could precipitate another spike in infections.

The USTA has, however, insisted that the risk of contracting Covid-19 will be minimal as long as there is strict adherence to the "bubble" protocols in place.

"Working with our medical advisory group and security team and the state of New York, we have developed a strong health and safety plan to mitigate the risk of infection within the contained environment comprised of the tournament site and player hotels," it said.

"New York state continues to be one of the safest places in the country as it relates to the Covid-19 virus."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 02, 2020, with the headline 'US Open safety plans 'on track''. Subscribe