Australian Open chiefs have denied reports that the tennis grand slam could be moved overseas next year.
Players were forced to quarantine in hotels for 14 days before this year’s tournament as a Covid-19 precaution but are said to be unwilling to do so again in 2022.
The Australian government’s prediction that borders will remain closed until the middle of next year has seen Tennis Australia consider Dubai and Doha as alternative venues for its flagship event, reported state broadcaster ABC.
But Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said: “We’re going to be here in Melbourne, we are going to make it work, it’s going to be in January.
“We’re going to find a way to get the players here who are currently travelling the world in a bubble.
“We are the only country where quarantine is required. We’ve got to find a way to manage that and we will.”
Why is the Australian Open in doubt?
Men’s nine-time champion Novak Djokovic was among players to bemoan being confined to a hotel before this year’s Australian Open.
Dozens more players were forced to self-isolate in their rooms after testing positive for Covid-19 following their flights to Australia.
“Mass gatherings and international travel, Covid doesn’t allow those two things to happen, and those are the pillars of our success,” Tiley added.
“Being able to get around that was a challenge. There’s lots of speculation about 2022, and it’s the same journey we are going to go on. It’s going to be a ride.
“We felt like we climbed Mount Everest, and unfortunately now we’ve found ourselves back at base camp.
“The one positive thing is that we at least have a path, because we have done it once.”
The Australian government had pledged to vaccinate all citizens October, but that plan is now in serious doubt. Only 3m doses have been administered to a population of more than 25m.
Cricket’s Indian Premier League relocated to the United Arab Emirates last year because of the pandemic.
Football’s Champions League final has been moved from Istanbul to Porto later this month due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.