Highly unlikely US Open would be held without spectators, says USTA head - GulfToday

Highly unlikely US Open would be held without spectators, says USTA head

Thanasi-Kokkinakis

Thanasi Kokkinakis (right) underlined his potential after defeating Roger Federer in Miami in 2018. File / AFP

US Open organisers said on Thursday they are planning for the Grand Slam event to go ahead as scheduled and that an event without spectators is “highly unlikely”.

United States tennis Association chief executive Mike Dowse said nothing “is off the table” and a final decision on the fate of the event would come in June but having fans attend the event is still their goal.

“Playing without spectators, we are not taking anything off the table. But right now that’s a highly unlikely scenario,” said Dowse.

“That’s not in the spirit of celebration of tennis.”

Dowse’s comments come as the National tennis center’s indoor courts in New York were being used as a makeshift hospital facility to treat those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

While the indoor tennis courts have been turned into a hospital zone, the Louis Armstrong Stadium has been transformed into a meal assembly area for patients, volunteers and area schoolkids.

New York remains the hardest-hit area in America with over 31,000 dead, including 10,800 in New York City.

More than 640,000 Americans have been infected with Covid-19.

Dowse said they are in contact with a half dozen doctors and are going to be seeking their advice in making the next moves.

“We’re very fortunate that we’re the fourth Grand Slam to go, so time is on our side at this point,” Dowse said. “Obviously our ambition is to run the tournament.

“Having said that, it won’t be the driving factor. The driving factor will be the health and well being of the players, the fans and our staff.”

Dowse said they have some time to seek the advice of medical experts before they make their final decision.

“We are looking at time frame of June to make that decision. We will approach it through a medical advisory group. We have five or six doctors we are consulting with. Based on that information we will make the decision if it is safe to play the tournament or not,” he said.

The US Open is now the next major tournament on the schedule from Aug. 31-Sept. 13, with Wimbledon having been cancelled and the French Open postponed to a September 20 start on the red clay in Paris.

Meanwhile, Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis says he is just trying to stay in shape after coming through a bout of glandular fever that saw him shed 10kg and left him unable to breathe while sleeping.

The South Australian, who underlined his potential when he defeated Roger Federer in Miami in 2018, was forced to miss the year’s first Grand Slam in Melbourne due to the illness.

“I was told I had stopped breathing when I was sleeping, my throat was so inflamed,” Kokkinakis, who reached a career-high ranking of 69 in 2015, was quoted as saying by Australian media.

“I lost 10 kilos because I couldn’t eat, now I’m trying to stay in shape, trying to stay sane. I’m not looking too far ahead, trying to maintain shape and not push it too much.

“When we get the all-clear, I’ll ramp it up.”

Injuries to his elbows and knees, as well as muscle problems, have interrupted the 24-year-old’s career and he has been forced to battle his way back through the secondary tours.

The infection once again put him on the back foot but he hopes he can have a clear run once tennis resumes after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I tried to get back on court late December before I knew anything was wrong, and I was running out of gas quickly but I thought it might be the bushfire thing with all the smoke,” said Kokkinakis, who is now ranked 237.

Agencies

Related articles

Other Articles