The Australian Open 2021: Another big sports event overshadowed by Covid-19

Photo by Moises Alex on Unsplash

600 people, all in connection to the Australian Open, are currently quarantined in Melbourne, Australia. This is happening less than a week before the Australian Open was supposed to start. One employee at a hotel, that housed people related to the event, has tested positive for the coronavirus. 

This has triggered an immense chain reaction leaving 600 people quarantined and a range of tennis events being cancelled. Yesterday, all tennis play was suspended, but the tournament is still going on as planned on Monday. 

“I don’t expect any problems for that,” says Premier Daniel Andrews of the state of Victoria. According to him there is no reason for panic as they have previously shown that they can deal with a situation like that in the state of Victoria. Concerns were made about the tennis tournament’s hotel quarantine program and this case is putting sports events in corona times in the spotlight again.

On 13 January the World Men’s Handball Championship started in Egypt. It was only shortly before the start of the World Cup that it was decided that, due to the Corona pandemic, no spectators would be allowed in. “It was very important for me that the championship would not allow any spectators,” Inez Rosenkranz, a handball player, says.

The choice of going ahead with the championship was controversial. “It is a difficult question if one should allow those events to continue or not. One should try to make every job possible in these hard times. Handball players earn far from what football Bundesliga players earn. It is, after all, their work and you should give people all the positivity they can have,” she explains. 

Positivity that extends all the way to the spectators as Rosenkranz argues. “Especially in times like this, where nothing is happening, it is nice to be able to watch your sport on television,” she says. 

This controversy around major sports events will likely stay with us for a while. And while the Australian Open will continue mostly as planned, there are many more challenges ahead. 

Tennis tournaments are played all over the world, in countries and regions where borders need to be crossed. Australia has the advantage of being an island and having a position of really controlling borders and therefore the virus. But only time will tell how the sport of tennis will look like in 2021. 

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