US Open training facility to be converted to makeshift hospital in coronavirus battle

leyeaduloju in News 01 Apr 2020
Photo: PA Sport

An indoor training area at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre is being converted to a makeshift hospital, as the battle against the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, situated at Flushing Meadows in the Queen’s area of New York, is the site for the US Open.

According to Katie Honan of the Wall Street Journal, who first reported the story, the temporary facility will house 350 beds.

USTA spokesman, Chris Widmaier, confirmed the story to the New York Post, saying the association is ready to help the victims of the virus in whatever way it can. The site is likely to be used for non-COVID-19 patients, but that could change depending on needs.

“We’re here to help and if our site in Queens is utilized to help New Yorkers, we’re all for it,” he said.

New York City has recorded over 41,00 coronavirus cases, while over 1000 people have died as a result of the infections.

Widmaier also confirmed that the Louis Armstrong Stadium, one of the courts used for the US Open, will be converted into a commissary, where 25,000 meal packages will be prepared daily for COVID-19 patients, healthcare workers, public school children, and others who need them.

The coronavirus pandemic has been tearing apart the 2020 sporting calendar, forcing many major events, including the Olympic Games, to either postpone or cancel their tournaments.

Widmaier is however still hopeful that the US Open, set to hold from 24 August – 13 September, goes ahead as planned.

“Our greatest hope is that the U.S. Open will take place as scheduled at end of August and that New York will once again welcome the world,” he said.

The ATP and WTA tours are currently suspended, with action not scheduled to resume until 7 June, at the earliest. The tennis calendar was thrown into more imbalance when the French Open organizers moved the clay-court Slam from May to September, with the tournament now scheduled to start on September 20, one week after the conclusion of the US Open.

The USTA released a statement at the time saying they weren’t planning on implementing any changes to the US Open dates, but admitted that there is a possibility of moving the tournament to a later date.