World No. 1 Novak Djokovic believes playing the US Open under ‘extreme’ COVID-19 safety protocols would be ‘impossible’. The US…
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic believes playing the US Open under ‘extreme’ COVID-19 safety protocols would be ‘impossible’.
The US Open is aiming to be the first Grand Slam staged since tennis was suspended in March due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
However, the tournament needs to implement a series of strict safety procedures in order to go ahead, including placing a reduction in player entourages, housing players in airport hotels and restricting access to facilities when not competing in a match.
Currently scheduled to run from August 31 to September 13, the US Open say an official decision on the status of the tournament will be made within the next couple of weeks.
Speaking to Serbia’s Prva TV, Djokovic expressed his concerns about the US Open being given the green light.
“I had a telephone conversation with the leaders of world tennis. There were talks about the continuation of the season, mostly about the US Open due in late August, but it’s not known whether it will be held,” Djokovic said.
“The rules that they told us that we would have to respect to be there, to play at all, they are extreme. We would not have access to Manhattan, we would have to sleep in hotels at the airport, to be tested twice or three times per week.
“Also, we could bring one person to the club which is really impossible. I mean, you need your coach, then a fitness trainer, then a physiotherapist.”
Djokovic added that he understood why the US Open is doing all it can possibly can to go ahead as originally planned.
“They want the tournament to go ahead at any cost for economic reasons, which I understand,” he said. “But the question is, how many players are willing to accept those terms.”
The US has the most number of total coronavirus cases in the world with over 1.9 million, along with more than 109,000 deaths.
World No. 2 Rafael Nadal has also questioned whether tennis can resume a normal calendar under the current circumstances and due to the sport’s essential need for international travel.
“For me is very difficult to separate the status that the world is living from my real perspective on the world of tennis, no,” Nadal said this week.
“We need to be responsible, we need to be sure that the situation is safe enough, and then of course try to come back to our tour when the things are clear.”