New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a Tuesday press conference that the U.S. Open, one of professional tennis’ biggest tournaments, will take place this summer in Queens but without fans due to the ongoing pandemic, following earlier reports that the United States Tennis Association would announce this week that the tournament would go ahead.
The tournament will run from August 31 through September 13, as originally scheduled, but no spectators will be allowed, Cuomo said.
The Open will be televised so fans can watch from home, Cuomo added.
The New York Times reported Monday that the USTA will hold the tournament at its Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, which is adjacent to the famous site of the 1964 World’s Fair.
According to Cuomo’s PowerPoint presentation, “robust testing” will be done to protect players and staff, along with extra cleaning, more locker room space and dedicated housing and transportation.
#BREAKING: Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces #USOpen will be held in Queens WITHOUT FANS. pic.twitter.com/I4YFG72lJU
— The Hill (@thehill) June 16, 2020
Over 730,000. That’s how many tennis fans went to the 2019 Open during its two week main draw, according to the tournament’s website, an all-time attendance record.
“We recognize the tremendous responsibility of hosting one of the first global sporting events in these challenging times, and we will do so in the safest manner possible, mitigating all potential risks,” said USTA executive director and CEO Mike Dowse in a statement emailed to Forbes. “We now can give fans around the world the chance to watch tennis’ top athletes compete for a U.S. Open title, and we can showcase tennis as the ideal social distancing sport. Being able to hold these events in 2020 is a boost for the the City of New York and the entire tennis landscape.”
The coronavirus pandemic forced countless sporting events into cancellation or postponement in order to protect the health of players, coaches, spectators and support staff. Some sports, like Formula One, Britain’s Premier League and the NBA are cautiously setting out on shortened seasons. In the world of tennis, the French Open was rescheduled from May to kick off the week after the Open ends. Top-ranked players, such as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal previously expressed concerns about competing in the Open amid the pandemic.
The Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was used as an emergency hospital during the height of New York’s battle against coronavirus.