Concerns over the impact of stringent health protocols due to the outbreak of the Corona virus on the participation of the most prominent tennis players in the American Open this year have been allayed to some degree after Serena Williams confirmed her participation in New York.
Williams said in a video message, on the sidelines of an American Tennis Federation press conference to confirm the tournament on August 31-September 13 without fans, that she was missing the tournament excitement.
“I wait impatiently to return to New York and play at the 2020 American Open. I feel that the ATF will do a really good job of ensuring that everything goes out wonderfully … and that everyone is safe,” she added.
Several top players, including world number one Serbian Novak Djokovic, Australian Ashley Parti and Rafael Nadal, the American Open champion, expressed fears of going to New York.
One of the sticking points is the number of individuals each player can take to the stadium, which is something the AFA said is still trying to solve.
The decision will affect big players who usually go to tournaments accompanied by a coach, a training colleague, a doctor and a fitness specialist.
“We understand what athletes need,” Stacey Alaster, director of the American Open, said at a video conference from the main stadium of Arthur Ashe Stadium. We just have to make sure we stick to the physical distance and ensure that everyone spreads and that every player gets the right flexibility and the preparation he needs. ”
Alaster also said that players who do not wish to stay in one of the two accredited hotels of the tournament can rent homes in the New York area, but they cannot stay in Manhattan.
The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open, hosts the Cincinnati Tournament for Men and Women, which is usually held in Ohio from August 22-28 as part of efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
Players will undergo tests before traveling to the United States and once or twice a week in the two tournaments, as well as checking the temperature daily.
During the US Open, which this year will not contain a mixed doubles competition, players and guests will have to put up masks while in the stadiums, except in the case of training or a game.
There will be watchers for the lines in Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong stadiums, but they will not appear in other stadiums, where the main referee will use the “Falcon Eye” system in making decisions regarding the stadium lines.
If the result of any player examination is positive, it will be isolated and taken care of by the medical staff of the American Tennis Federation, which will determine whether treatment in the hotel is possible or the person needs hospitalization.