US Open pushing to have tournament with fans

US Open pushing to have tournament with fans

A final decision on staging the US Open in late August won’t be made until June, according to USTA chief of operations Mike Dowse.

Dowse added it is “highly unlikely” the Queens event would be held without spectators as it would go against the “spirit” of professional tennis. The US Open is the next Grand Slam up with Wimbledon canceled and the French Open moving from May to mid-September.

The US Open is scheduled for Aug. 31-Sept. 13, with qualifying on tap for the week prior. An indoor section of the National Tennis Center in Queens has been used as a 450-bed hospital since last month.

“Time is on our side at this point as the last Grand Slam,” Dowse said on a conference call. “Obviously our ambition is to run the tournament. Having said that, it won’t be the driving factor. The driving factor is the health and well-being of our players, fans and staff. We’ve set a time frame about June to make that decision.”

The USTA is engaged with a medical committee of “five, six doctors we are consulting with on a regular basis.”

“Based on that information, we will make the decision on whether it’s safe to play the tournament or not,” Dowse said.

Dowse sounded unenthused about staging the Open minus the boisterous Flushing fans who make the event the jewel that it is.

“Playing without spectators – we’re not taking anything off the table – but it’s highly unlikely,” Dowse said. “It’s not really in the spirit of the celebration of tennis. We really don’t see that as an option. Unless the medical experts comes back with: here’s a foolproof way of doing a safe tournament without fans, we may look at it at that point.”

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