In a report Wednesday in London’s Daily Mail, the CEO of Tennis Australia Craig Tilley claimed that the Tokyo Olympics cannot work with the current strategy of dealing with the coronavirus crisis. The Australian Open is the first tennis major of the year and began this past Monday.
Tilley and his staff of over 600 have had almost a year to put together a plan to host a successful Australian Open tournament with fans. All athletes, coaches, officials, and media have been put under quarantine for two weeks and the organizers have planned for 30,000 Covid-19 tests to be administered throughout the event.
In comparison, the Olympics expect to have over 11,000 athletes in addition to coaches, support staff, and media members.
Just yesterday, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee released its Playbook for Athletes and Officials. Many of the rules in place are to minimize contact and to take proper hygiene measures to minimize transmission of the coronavirus. The biggest difference between the Australian Open and Tokyo is that the Australian Open is having everybody quarantine while the Olympics have not yet instituted any quarantine measures.
Tilley believes that the measures that his group has put together are “a far more rigorous program than is being proposed at the Olympics.” While he wants to see the Olympics take place, he does not see them happening under the current conditions. Tilley and his group plan to share their work with the International Olympic Committee.
In spite of these plans, the Australian Open has faced a number of challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic. Novak Djokovic, the current #1 ranked men’s player, faced backlash in January after posting a letter to Tennis Australia which was seen as a list of demands for better treatment. Multiple women’s players were locked-down after multiple positive tests on a charter flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne.
Tilley’s comments and outlook of the games follow recent comments from other world leaders. Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga offered a different perspective as he stated that “we are holding the Olympics this summer.” United States president Joe Biden is taking the stance that a decision on holding the Olympics must be based on science.