US Open will still continue as scheduled, even after Wimbledon cancellation

Tribune Content Agency

NEW YORK — Two major tennis tournaments (along with every major sports event in general) has been canceled or postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. But not the US Open.

On March 17, the French Open was postponed until late-September; on Wednesday Wimbledon was canceled as the WTA and ATP postponed their tours until at least July 13. The United States Tennis Association, however, said it does not plan to cancel or reschedule the August Grand Slam.

“We understand the unique circumstances facing the All England Lawn and Tennis Club and the reasoning behind the decision to cancel the 2020 Wimbledon Championships,” USTA said in a statement posted to the US Open’s website. “At this time, the USTA still plans to host the US Open as scheduled, and we continue to hone plans to stage the tournament.

“The USTA is carefully monitoring the rapidly-changing environment surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and is preparing for all contingencies. We also rely on the USTA’s Medical Advisory Group as well as governmental and security officials to ensure that we have the broadest understanding of this fluid situation. In all instances, all decisions made by the USTA regarding the US Open will be made with the health and well-being of our players, fans, and all others involved in the tournament.”

The current grounds of the Billie Jean King Tennis Center, in Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens — where the U.S. Tennis Championship has been held since 1978 — are currently being outfitted to hold temporary hospitals.

Queens, one of the hardest hit areas of COVID-19 — particularly the neighborhoods (Flushing, Corona, Forest Hills, Rego Park, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights) surrounding the park — like the rest of the city, has been struggling to slow the spread of the virus and treat those affected. The grounds are just one of several places around the Big Apple being transformed into field hospitals as the number of COVID-19 cases multiply.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Center for Disease Control reported 186,101 cases of coronavirus in the U.S. Of that total, New York State reported over 83,000 cases with New York City reporting just under 47,500 cases. Wednesday morning, the Daily News reported 43 more people died in the city overnight from coronavirus, bringing the city’s total death count to 1,139.

Hospitals and health care professionals around the state have continuously called out being ill equipped to combat the mounting number of cases. State and city officials have increased their calls for everyone to practice social distancing and to remain at home.

As the virus shows no signs of slowing, New York sports remain in a holding pattern. The NBA’s season was suspended indefinitely; MLB has no clue when they can resume spring training, let alone a season (they’ve already contemplated not playing home games in the NYC tristate area). Football experts project July minicamps won’t even be possible.

Ballperson tryouts for the US Open typically happen between May and July with the tournament running in August (this year it’s planned to run from Aug. 24 to Sept. 13). Those tryouts alone gather several hundred people, mostly high-school and college-aged kids, at the National Tennis Center grounds. The tournament itself brought in nearly 738,000 people over the two weeks last year, not including the additional 115,000 people who attended US Open Fan Week.

It’s unrealistic to think the USTA can begin preparation without any signs of the pandemic slowing in NYC. Even if they try to hold the tournament without fans, there are still plenty of staff and players from all around the world who would be present. Many countries have closed their borders, and flights into and out of New York have been unreliable.

Perhaps the USTA should take a note from their counterparts across the pond: act swiftly and decisively and cancel the tournament.


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