The US Open will go on as planned this year, but fans will have to stay home.
In an announcement on Wednesday morning, the US Tennis Association announced that the anticipated summer sporting event would still be held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens from August 31 to September 13, but with many changes in place to keep everyone safe.
"The decision to hold the 2020 US Open without fans was not an easy one, but ultimately it was the correct one," said Stacey Allaster, the chief executive, of Professional Tennis at USTA and US Open Tournament Director. "To mitigate risk, we must minimize numbers on-site. Though we will not have fans on our site, we will engage with tennis fans around the world in new and exciting ways with the help of our global broadcast partners, and all our US Open sponsors."
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One of those ways is by holding both the 2020 US Open and 2020 Western & Southern Open will be held at Flushing's NTC. The Western & Southern Open, which is usually held in Ohio, will be on Aug. 19-28. By doing this, it allows the USTA to keep the events in one centralized location, mitigating risk and allowing for one cohesive safety plan, the USTA says.
Plus, it'll amp up excitement for the summer's biggest tennis events even more than usual, according to Mike Dowse, the USTA's CEO and executive director.
"These two events are the summer’s biggest tennis blockbusters in the U.S., and we are thrilled for the players, our fans, and all of our partners, that we will be able to mark the return of tennis," Dowse said. "These tournaments also serve as an inspiration to tennis players of all levels, encouraging them to get out and play, given the social-distancing nature of our sport."
The decision came after "near round-the-clock" planning for three months with input from medical experts, security officials and the USTA Medical Advisory Group among other groups.
Unfortunately, the more than one million fans the events would attract didn't make the cut. The games' size and formats will be changed to limit the number of people on site at one time—including players, their entourages, staff, broadcasters, and all others associated with the on-site workings, the USTA says.
And not all games will be held as usual—the US Open's Mixed Doubles, Juniors and Wheelchair competitions will not be held this year in order to keep things limited. Only the Main Draw Men's and Women's Singles and Doubles events will be held.
In an Instagram video, Serena Williams said she was looking forward to playing, despite the big changes.
"Ultimately, I really cannot wait to return to New York and play the US Open 2020," she said. "It's been over six months since a lot of us have played professional tennis. I’ll certainly miss the fans ... just being out there in that New York crowd and hearing everyone cheer … this is crazy, I’m excited."
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Details for how to tune in will be announced in the near future.
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