MELBOURNE: Tennis Australia will schedule all of its summer tournaments in the leadup to the Australian Open in the southern state of Victoria due to COVID-19.
Victoria, which hosts the year's first Grand Slam in the state capital Melbourne, will stage the team-based ATP Cup and other tournaments usually held in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Hobart.
Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley said the governing body had made the unprecedented move because other Australian states could not guarantee player quarantine arrangements or make a "commitment of open travel between cities".
"Now it’s a matter of working out with the Victorian government what the quarantining program looks like, that it ensures the safety of the community and then of course the safety of the players coming in," Tiley said in comments published by Melbourne's Herald Sun newspaper on Monday.
"There is now no risk of the Australian Open going ahead without everyone in Victoria and we didn’t have that guarantee previously."
Tiley said players would be able to train and compete in a biosecure bubble during a two-week quarantine in Melbourne but would be free to move around Victoria and mix with fans after completing their mandatory isolation.
"So the Australian Open will be played in an open environment with players moving around freely, as well as fans — at least up to 25 percent (capacity)," Tiley said.
Once the epicentre of a second wave outbreak of COVID-19 mid-year, Victoria has recorded 17 consecutive days of no new cases following a four-month hard lockdown.
TA hope the current crowd cap of 25per cent at stadiums could be lifted if the favourable trend continues.
He said TA were looking at staging some of the summer tournaments in Victoria's regional cities like Bendigo and Traralgon, subject to authorities' approvals.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Toby Davis)