Australian Open tournament director willing to 'climb Mount Everest' to keep Grand Slam in Melbourne in 2022

Craig Tiley responds to claim that tournament could be moved to Dubai or Doha due to border restrictions

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said he was prepared to "climb Mount Everest" again to keep the Grand Slam at Melbourne Park next year after a report that it could be moved because of border closures.

State broadcaster ABC reported on Monday a government forecast that Australia's borders would be closed until mid-2022 in response to the coronavirus pandemic could force the relocation of the tournament to Dubai or Doha, as players would not be prepared to undergo strict quarantine measures again.

Players and officials taking part in this year's tournament complained of boredom, loneliness and rodents in their hotel rooms after being forced to comply with a 14-day quarantine rule to get the opening Grand Slam of the year under way in February.

Despite that, Tiley oversaw a largely successful tournament against huge odds, and said there were no plans to relocate the 2022 tournament.

"We're going to be here in Melbourne, we are going to make it work, it's going to be in January," the Tennis Australia chief executive told local media on Monday.

"We're going to find a way to get the players here who are currently travelling the world in a bubble.

"We are the only country where quarantine is required. We've got a find a way to manage that and we will."

Australia has been relatively successful in containing the coronavirus and the government sees strict restrictions on those who are able to enter the country as a key part of their strategy.

Tiley said he had learned a lot about how to plan a tournament during a pandemic earlier this year, when the Australian Open was successfully contested in front of reduced, and sometimes no, spectators.

He believes following a similar roadmap will ensure that the opening Grand Slam of the year will remain on Australian shores.

"The two enemies, mass gatherings and international travel, Covid doesn't allow those two things to happen, and those are the pillars of our success," the South African added.

"Being able to get around that was a challenge. There's lots of speculation about 2022, and it's the same journey we are going to go on. It's going to be a ride.

"We felt like we climbed Mount Everest, and unfortunately now we've found ourselves back at base camp. But the one positive thing is that we at least have a path because we have done it once."

Updated: May 17, 2021 08:05 AM

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