With the entire year falling prey to Coronavirus scare, there was a possibility that most sporting events would be canceled in the wake of it. The Olympics got postponed to the next year- and so did the Euros. But the US Open Tennis 2020 is going to be organized from the 31st of August, amidst top-seeded players dropping off due to the Coronavirus scare. Nevertheless, this will still bring about a huge TV viewership as people would be able to watch it from the comforts of their houses. As one can predict, there are going to be several changes in the US Open 2020- including safety protocols, schedules, and personnel. Interestingly, this is the 140th US Open Tennis 2020, yet just the second Grand Slam of this year. The event will be carried out on the iconic USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in NYC. There will be several top Tennis players missing out as a result of the coronavirus scare- Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer head the list among men while Simona Halep and Bianca Andreescu head the women’s list. Nevertheless, it should be an exciting watch amidst the nightmare that is this year. The defending champions for both the Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu have already withdrawn themselves from the event.
US Open 2020- The Tournament
This is the 140th edition of the US Open Tennis 2020 and the only one where there would be no viewers. The matches are going to be played in 17 hardcourt turfs, at the Tennis Centre in New York City. Historically, the tournament has always been under the jurisdiction of the ITF (International Tennis Federation) and will be a part of both the ATP and WTA Tour of 2020. Interestingly, this Grand Slam will have a few changes in the scheduling and the events. There would simply be the Men’s and the Women’s Singles, and the Doubles. There would not be any Mixed Doubles, Juniors, Qualifying, or Wheelchair matches this year. Also, the number of doubles draws has been reduced from 64 to 32. The three main show courts are expected to host the final matches of the tournament- The Arthur Ashe Stadium, Grandstand, and the Louis Armstrong Stadium.
US Open Tennis 2020- The Safety Protocol
When there are 350 top Tennis players residing in a location, safety protocol is quite imperative. And when the year is 2020 and the world is gripped by Coronavirus scare, the need becomes even more imminent. The NTC has opened up to the players, and everyone settling themselves in at the relocated Cincinnati draw would have to test and quarantine themselves in the USTA controlled environment. Their deadline day for testing is Tuesday- giving them a 4-day window until the tournament starts. Last Tuesday witnessed a conference call amongst the ITF and the USTA which saw them outline all the necessary safety protocols that need to be enforced in order to successfully go through the US Open Tennis 2020. The authorities had always maintained a particular stand- there wasn’t a gun pointed at their heads to host it- nonetheless, they decided to give it the go-ahead because not only would it be helpful for the Tennis world, but it would also incur a lot of revenue owing to sponsorship and viewership details. The Director of the US Open 2020 Stacy Allaster mentioned how the initial days were quite hassle-free, as the Tennis stars knew social distancing protocols, and kept their masks on. She added that the stars were really feeling at home in their natural environment. There was a strong sense of brotherhood and the community, as they knew they were doing it for the sport they loved, and the fans that loved them. They are quite determined to make US Open Tennis 2020 a major hit.
There is a tiered system in place to make sure that the safety procedures aren’t breached at all costs. Tier I consists of Tennis players, and their managements- this tier is supposedly the strictest of all the tiers, with two tests organized for them within 48 hours of their arrival in the city, and then tests every 4 days. The second tier would be for the media representatives, who would have really low exposure and interaction with the tennis players- and finally the third tier- the support staff who would have the least interaction. While these protocols are solidly in place, it also needs to be seen if they would be followed by the individuals. Andrew Cuomo, the Mayor of New York stated that compliance would be even more important than just the implementation of rules, so they would have health administrators, and counsellors in place who would be able to manage the tennis players to maintain protocol.
Since this is the 21st century, the US Open Tennis 2020 would also use the technological facilities to their advantage. RFID stickers would be attached to all credentials, so in the event of a test resulting coming positive, advanced contact testing would be made possible. While some may be wondering at the complexity of the entire plan, it must be noted that there was a growing uncertainty amongst the authorities regarding the initiation of this event. And the plans have been so comprehensive that it has helped alleviate several doubts and suspicions. Most importantly, the players themselves are hungry to get back out there- and with such solid protocols in place, they would have no problems doing just that. Mike Dowse, the CEO of USTA believes that when it is all said and done, everyone would be complimenting on a job well done.
US Open 2020: The Schedule
- Anyone traveling to New York from outside would be given two rooms in Manhattan- wherein only two people will be allowed one room. In case of that not being feasible, most of them would also be allowed to rent houses on the outskirts of Manhattan at their own expense.
- While they won’t have to stay in quarantine when they are in the United States, they will need to get tested immediately before they start on their journey to New York.
- The entire duration of their stay would involve them being tests every four days, with regular checks in temperature.
- Individuals seen at the venue would have to mandatorily wear masks- unless they working out, practicing, or playing.
- The draw for the doubles will be halved.
The Mayor has definitely recognized the risks that are involved in organizing one of the most important sporting events of the year but has also assured that the tournament will be conducted in the safest way possible. The proposals haven’t gone without criticism, as several top tennis players like Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios have outright expressed their disdain at the USTA and the ITP for going ahead with the event. While others like Novak Djokovic find it ludicrous to come to the event with just one single person.
Although, it remains to be seen just how many people will be allowed per player for the US Open Tennis 2020. The other change involves the Western and Southern Open that will take place in New York after Cincinnati bailed out due to the coronavirus scare. The USTA would be instituting a budget of $60 million, of which most would go to the winners. And while that could definitely ruffle a few feathers, they are also thinking of a ranking based system- which will definitely alienate the players who canceled out on the US Open Tennis 2020.
US Open Tennis 2020- The Legacy of Althea Gibson
With the Black Lives Matter movement a major part of this year, it is only fitting that the US Open 2020 celebrates the annual unveiling of the bust of Althea Gibson outside the Arthur Ashe stadium. The story of Althea Gibson is one that transcends time. Long before Serena Williams and her sister dominated the hard courts, Althea Gibson was an inspiration to many black women who wanted to go beyond their skin color and be identified for who they turned out to be. And whoever says that Althea Gibson was simply a ‘born athlete’ who got lucky, they don’t know anything about her life- one that is an incredible tale of struggle, pain, tears, and finally jubilation. From her first Grand Slam victory at Roland Garros 1956 to the ten more Grand Slams that she won in her career, she was an inspiration to every woman out there who couldn’t dare to dream. Now, she has become the epitome of prevailing in the face of suffering. With several black women winning the US Open and the other Grand Slams year after year, it only takes one glance to see who made it possible- Althea Gibson.
The US Open Tennis 2020 would be another celebration of prevailing in the face of a catastrophe, and if the event is done with proper guidelines followed to the letter- it ought to be a great success in a year that has been nothing but terrible.