Player unease as US Open to go ahead without fans

NEW YORK (AFP) – The US Open tennis championships will go ahead as scheduled in August but without spectators, officials confirmed on Tuesday.

After weeks of uncertainty surrounding the tournament – which is being staged in the epicentre of the United States (US) coronavirus crisis – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo formally gave the event the green light.

“The @usopen will be held in Queens, NY, without fans from August 31 to September 13,” Cuomo announced on Twitter.

The New York leader said the US Tennis Association (USTA) would take “extraordinary precautions” to protect players and staff during the event.

“It will be held without fans, but we can watch it on TV, and I’ll take that,” Cuomo later said during a briefing.

Safety protocols in force at the tournament include testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space, and dedicated housing and transportation.

The decision had been anticipated after reports on Monday said the USTA’s plans for the tournament had received support from the ATP and WTA Tours.

The ATP/WTA Cincinnati hardcourt event – the Western & Southern Open – will also be staged at the USTA’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre as a lead-in tournament.

The USTA opted to move the tournament to New York to minimise travel for players taking part in both tournaments.