Cuomo Approves U.S. Open Being Held As Scheduled Without Fans
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo today approved the U.S. Open being held as scheduled in late August “as part of the state's reopening from shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” according to Howard Fendrich of the AP. The USTA had planned to “go forward with its marquee event in New York City without spectators,” but needed “an OK from the state” (AP, 6/16). In London, Stuart Fraser reports one key reason behind the USTA's decision to go ahead with the event is the "lack of a Wimbledon-like insurance policy that covers global pandemics." While there will be no ticket revenue with fans barred from the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the broadcast rights "will still bring in a significant level of income" (LONDON TIMES, 6/16). Also in London, Simon Briggs notes the USTA "was forced to lay off 130 people last week, and there would certainly be more job losses if the US Open -- which supplies 80 per cent of the USTA’s annual income -- were not to take place." The TV rights income "will help stave off the worst-case scenario" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/16).
FEELING OPPOSITION: In N.Y., Christopher Clarey writes there has been "considerable resistance from international players to the centralized U.S. Open plan." Players "will be subject to frequent coronavirus testing" and, with few exceptions, they "will be lodged together at a hotel outside Manhattan." Some restrictions are expected "to be placed on their movement to protect their health." The USTA plans to "reduce the amount of support staff that player may bring" to the National Tennis Center, and it may be "as few as one team member." That "would represent quite a change for the game's biggest stars, who typically travel with large entourages including family." Novak Djokovic has "criticized the restrictions as 'extreme,'" while top WTA players Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep have "expressed uncertainty about committing to play in the Open" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/16). ESPN's Patrick McEnroe said while top players come to events “with a whole entourage,” most players “don’t have that luxury.” If a player “doesn’t feel comfortable getting on a plane and travelling halfway around the world, that’s going to be their call.” That may "impact the field overall, but you can be sure the USTA would love to see those top players there” ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 6/15). Tennis Channel's Tracy Austin: “I would like to see more of the top players commit. I really don’t want to see a U.S. Open that’s so watered down” ("Tennis Channel Live," Tennis Channel, 6/15).