US Open now exploring option of holding tournament with no fans

andrewhendrie in News 10 May 2020
Will the US Open go ahead with no fans? (Photo: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA)

The US Open is now weighing up the possibility of staging their Grand Slam without spectators – despite previously stating that scenario was ‘highly unlikely’.

Last month, USTA CEO Mike Dowse said that playing the US Open without fans in attendance wasn’t in the ‘spirit of the celebration of tennis’.

However, tournament officials are now considering holding the event with no public access, creating a potentially ‘historic’ spectacle.

New York is still being heavily impacted by COVID-19, but USTA executive Lew Sherr says he still wants the tournament to go ahead – despite the near-impossible logistics of international travel.

“Two months ago, it just didn’t feel like you could [have] a no-fan scenario and have it be what we think of as the U.S. Open,” Sherr told Sportsbusiness Journal.

“As we’ve gone forward, I’ve come around to recognising what an achievement it would be to play… we have 850,000 fans who attend, but we’ve got hundreds of millions of fans who still watch the Open around the world and will never step foot on the grounds.”

Set to begin on August 31, an official decision on the US Open’s fate is expected to be decided over the next month.

“But it will require adjustments,” Sherr added. “It’s a different event. It would be broadcast differently, it would be consumed differently, it’s not just playing the U.S. Open, as you know it, with empty seats.”

While officials are hoping to hold the US Open as originally scheduled, it seems almost impossible that all players would be able to compete.

Most nations have banned international travel, with the 2021 Australian Open even preparing for their ‘worst-case scenarios’ of no tournament or needing to quarantine players that are able to make the trip to Melbourne.

“Our best-case scenario at this point is having an AO with players that we can get in here with quarantining techniques and Australian-only fans,” tournament director Craig Tiley said.