The 2021 Australian Open is officially taking place at Melbourne Park and things are looking a little different from previous years. From face masks to less crowds, here’s everything you need to know about this year’s tournament and first major of the year.
What is the current COVID-19 situation in Melbourne?
There are currently only two active community-level cases in the state of Victoria, and both cases are isolating as per regulations. One of these two cases was diagnosed on Sunday evening, the other was announced earlier this week. Both work in various quarantine hotels in Melbourne’s central business district. In addition to the two community-based cases, there are 18 other active cases in the state, all of which are returned travelers who are currently in hotel quarantine.
What are the current COVID-19 logs for fans, players and media?
Following the announcement of the joint case identified last week, the Victorian government reintroduced an updated mask mandate. Masks are currently required when traveling by public transport, taxis, or ridesharing, as well as indoors such as shopping malls and supermarkets.
This means that fans in enclosed stadiums like Rod Laver Arena, John Cain Arena, and Margaret Court Arena must wear masks with the roofs closed. Auxiliary staff such as security and event staff must wear masks at all times. Fans are only allowed to take off their masks when eating and drinking. The players, on the other hand, were given a little more freedom. They are required to wear masks on the way from their hotels to Melbourne Park, but do not have to do so when warming up or playing matches.
Players can also move freely around the area (while fans are restricted to certain zones, which we will explain later) and again have access to the recently built facilities only for players outside the Rod Laver Arena.
Masks must always be worn even in the media rooms, coffee is now delivered to desks to avoid unnecessary gatherings in the tea room, and press conferences are now closed with a mix of face-to-face and online questions. due to limited seating in the press conference rooms to comply with social distancing guidelines.
Tennis Australia has also launched a mobile health and safety application that all accredited employees must complete each day before entering the complex. It consists of three questions that are used to check that you are feeling healthy and have cold and flu symptoms.
What are the test protocols for players in and around the event?
After completing the obligatory 14-day quarantine in the state “hotel quarantine” program, the players are now treated as regular citizens, so to speak.
Last week, when a hotel quarantine agent tested positive at a hotel where the players were staying, the players were forced to retest and self-isolate until a negative test was returned.
What are the biggest differences in court this year?
The first thing fans might notice at this year’s Australian Open is the lack of line people. For the first time in a major, technology is used instead of line people to determine if a ball was in or out. This eliminates the need for player challenges and reduces the number of people required on the pitch.
Ball kids will continue to be in the courts, albeit with a lighter workload. They were also instructed not to get too close to the players. As a result, players will have to get their own towels and water bottles between points, which will likely slow the game down.
All others on the pitch, except the players, the referee and the ball kids, must wear a face mask at all times. This includes photographers, commentators and security guards.
The prize money was also a topic of conversation in Melbourne. The 2021 single game winners received AU $ 2.75 million, a 33% decrease from the AU $ 4.12 million check Novak Djokovic and Sofia Kenin put in my pocket last year. However, exiting the first round this year will earn you AU $ 100,000, an 11% increase over last year.
What are the main differences between last year and this year on the site?
Surprisingly, the grounds at Melbourne Park are amazingly similar to what fans and players have grown accustomed to in recent years. The Garden Square in front of the Rod Laver Arena is again full of sun loungers. This year only, customers will have to scan a QR code and “check in” when they sit down to watch what is happening on the big screen. There are food trucks on the lawns in front of the John Cain Arena, and the famous Aperol Spritz Bar has also made a welcome return.
The main changes fans will have to make in 2021 are the three “zones” that will be implemented in Melbourne Park. Each zone provides access to one of the three main arenas, as well as a selection of entertainment and food and drink options. When purchasing tickets, fans must select the zone in which they want to be stationed. They must then enter at their designated entrance and cannot move between the zones. Fans will no longer be able to buy floor passes and roam the complex.
Digital tickets have replaced traditional paper tickets to support contact tracking and unnecessarily reduced common contacts. Hand sanitizing stations have been set up throughout the district and cashless transactions are the only way to make purchases during the slam. Cleaning of high touch areas such as handrails, door handles and bathrooms is done after each gaming session.
Due to government restrictions on mass gatherings, a significant drop in crowds is expected this year. The maximum number of fans allowed through the gates is 30,000 per day, almost 50% fewer than in previous years, although it is still significantly higher than in New York and Paris last year.