'This is a mistake': Tennis world erupts over shock announcement

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Victoria Azarenka and Naomi Osaka, pictured here after the US Open final in 2020.
Victoria Azarenka and Naomi Osaka look on after the US Open final in 2020. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

US Open officials have made the staggering call to host this year's grand slam tournament with 100 per cent capacity crowds.

The US Open was played behind closed doors last year due to Covid-19, with officials forced to shut fans out.

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But the US Tennis Association (USTA) announced this week that fans will be welcomed back in 2021, with no restrictions on crowd sizes.

The tournament will begin selling tickets for the August 30-September 12 showdown at Flushing Meadows to the public on July 15.

It will be the first grand slam to be played at 100 per cent capacity since the pandemic began.

Officials said the US Open will follow all US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines regarding the deadly virus.

"We are extremely excited to be able to welcome our incredible fans back to the US Open this year," USTA chief executive officer Mike Dowse said.

"While we were proud that we were able to hold the event in 2020, we missed having our fans on-site, because we know that they are a large part of what makes the US Open experience unlike any other."

Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem, pictured here playing the 2020 US Open final behind closed doors.
Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem played the 2020 US Open final behind closed doors. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Dowse said four million people had discovered or returned to tennis during the pandemic, using the sport to stay active while outdoors and observing social distancing.

"Indeed, the challenges presented by the pandemic were tough on us all, but our sport came together like never before and tackled each challenge head on," he said.

"Our sport surged in the toughest of times and this year's US Open promises to be an unforgettable celebration of the game, those who play it, and those who revel in it."

The last grand slam to be played in front of capacity crowds was the 2020 Australian Open, held in January that year just months before the height of the pandemic.

Needless to say, tennis fans were left sceptical about the wisdom of hosting capacity crowds considering America's daily Covid numbers.

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Wimbledon to allow capacity crowds for finals

Last week, the British government said it will allow Wimbledon to host a full crowd of 15,000 at centre court for the men's and women's finals.

The 2020 edition of the grass-court major was cancelled entirely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wimbledon, which begins on June 28, can have 50 per cent capacity at the start of the tournament and that will increase to 100 per cent on July 10-11 for the women's and men's singles finals.

The government's decision to ease Covid-19 restrictions on crowds will also allow for increased attendances at soccer's European Championship and other sporting events.

“We want to gather further evidence on how we can open up all big events safely, and for good,” Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said in a statement. 

“In the next few weeks this means more fans enjoying the Euros and Wimbledon, and some of our biggest cultural and sports events.”

Wimbledon's cancellation in 2020 was the first time since World War II that the tournament hadn't been played.

It was later revealed that Wimbledon had pandemic insurance, saving them millions in lost revenue.

with agencies

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