US Open to proceed without fans if government allows, USTA says

The professional tennis tours have been suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Tennis Association intends to hold the U.S. Open in New York starting in August without spectators, if it gets governmental support -- and a formal announcement could come this week.

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The professional tennis tours have been suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the French Open postponed from May to September and Wimbledon canceled altogether for the first time in 75 years. The U.S. Open, if played, would be the second Grand Slam tournament of the year, following the Australian Open in January.

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“We’re ready to move forward as long as we get all the approvals we need,” USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said in a telephone interview Monday.

“At the end of the day, there are three factors involved in the decision-making. No. 1 is creating a plan that has health and safety at the forefront. No. 2 is whether conducting the U.S. Open is the right thing for the sport of tennis. And No. 3 is whether it can be done in a financially viable manner. We believe we can hit all three of the objectives,” Widmaier said. “But we do need to approach this in a step-by-step manner, and when all of the steps are completed, that is when we can make an official announcement.”

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The operational plan to hold the event amid concerns about the coronavirus includes no spectators, limited player entourages, centralized housing, increased cleaning at the tournament grounds in Flushing Meadows and testing for COVID-19.

Also part of the plan: There would be no qualifying for singles. Players whose rankings would have put them in that field will get money that the USTA will pass along to the ATP and WTA tours to distribute. The Cincinnati tournament scheduled for Aug. 16-23, which is majority owned by the USTA, will be moved to New York in place of U.S. Open qualifying.

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“We have submitted our proposal to the state of New York. It’s a very comprehensive plan that details all operational aspects of the tournament — first and foremost, the health and safety of anyone involved in the tournament,” Widmaier said. “We are waiting to hear back from state officials on the viability of that plan. The U.S. Open is one of many professional sports entities within the state of New York and we recognize that the state needs to review all sports in a comprehensive manner.”

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