(Reuters) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday gave the green light for the U.S. Open to be held from Aug. 31-Sept. 13 without fans as part of the state’s reopening from shutdowns related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Cuomo said on Twitter the United States Tennis Association (USTA) will take “extraordinary precautions” to protect players and staff at the Grand Slam tournament, including robust testing, additional cleaning and extra locker room space.
While a number of top players had expressed concerns about attending the tournament due to the novel coronavirus, the USTA had said it hoped to go ahead with the event so long as it got approval from the state.
No professional tennis tournaments have been held since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left the sport’s calendar in tatters, and the shutdown will extend until August.
Wimbledon was cancelled altogether while the French Open has been moved to September and is due to start one week after the scheduled U.S. Open men’s final.
World number one Novak Djokovic and reigning U.S. Open men’s champion Rafa Nadal are among the players who have expressed concerns about attending the New York tournament.
Australian Nick Kyrgios on Monday blasted the USTA for being “selfish” by pressing ahead with the U.S. Open on its original dates from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13.
Nadal said earlier this month he would not travel to the U.S. Open in present circumstances, while Djokovic said playing the event this year would be impossible given “extreme” protocols that would be in place.
The U.S. Open is held annually in New York City, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. The USTA’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was even turned into a temporary hospital to help in the battle against the virus.
Last year’s U.S. Open drew an all-time attendance record of nearly 740,000 fans and the event is the engine that drives the governing USTA.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Catherine Evans and Ken Ferris