Tokyo 2020: “I cannot see it working”
Published on February 15th, 2021
It is unsurprising that this year’s Australian Open has been overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizers were taking on a mammoth task when deciding to hold the tennis Grand Slam against the backdrop of a global health crisis, especially in a country where coronavirus cases have been kept to a minimum due to strict travel restrictions.
Such restrictions meant 72 players spent two weeks confined to the four walls of their hotel rooms in the run-up to the tournament. These players had the misfortune to fly into Australia on planes where positive COVID-19 cases were later identified.
While teammates and rivals were allowed up to five hours on a tennis court daily, those in isolation had to resort to hitting balls off the wall and completing five kilometer runs in tiny spaces.
The promise of competing in front of a crowd, such a rarity during these strange times, may have been a source of motivation for the quarantining players. Fans had indeed been allowed to watch the opening five days of matches at the Grand Slam, with the capacity limited to 30,000 spectators per day.
This was soon impacted by coronavirus, however. A snap lockdown was declared on February 12 in the state of Victoria, where Melbourne is located, after the number of COVID-19 cases linked to a Holiday Inn hotel at Melbourne Airport rose to 13. As a result, the Australian Open is to be played with no spectators until at least February 18.
Indeed, organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be keeping a keen eye on developments in Melbourne. Tennis Australia chief executive Craig Tiley recently confirmed he would be sharing his experiences with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but also issued a stark warning to the organization.
“I’ve seen the playbook for the Olympics, and I’ve looked at it carefully,” Tiley told Reuters. “And compared to what we’ve done, we’ve had a far more rigorous program than is being proposed at the Olympics.
“I love the Olympic Games. I’d like to see it be successful. But with the experience we had, I cannot see it working.” – Full report
Tokyo Olympic Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17
Original dates: July 24 to August 9, 2020
Revised dates: July 23 to August 8, 2021