Sports

USTA planning to hold US Open as scheduled, for now

New York, Apr 16 (efe-epa).- The United States Tennis Association said Thursday that the US Open is still on schedule for the late summer in New York, although it acknowledged that the status of that major event is in flux amid attempts to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus.

The US Open for decades has been the last of the four Grand Slam tournaments on the tennis calendar, although if it is held from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13 it will be the second major of 2020 after the Australian Open (which concluded in early February).

French Open organizers announced that tennis’ premier clay-court event will be held from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4 (as opposed to late May and early June) in Paris, while Wimbledon had been scheduled for the first two weeks of July before that London-based grass-court tournament was canceled outright.

Speaking at a media conference call on Thursday morning, the USTA’s CEO and executive director, Mike Dowse, said a final decision on the US Open – a hard-court event that is organized by the USTA and is its biggest money-maker, bringing in more than $400 million in revenue annually – would need to be made sometime in June, adding that it was highly unlikely that the tournament would be played behind closed doors.

The venue for the US Open – the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City, the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in the US – is currently being used as a 470-bed temporary hospital.

Also Thursday, the sport’s governing body in the US announced the second phase of a rescue plan for people and organizations in the tennis industry adversely affected by the pandemic.

Dowse said the salaries of the association’s senior management would be reduced by 20 percent through year’s end to help achieve more than $20 million in savings and provide funding for the emergency assistance package.

The USTA said Thursday on its website that the second phase of its rescue plan will include “specific economic assistance packages, increased support to navigate government assistance for facilities and coaches (and) access to industry leaders.”

The organization added that the extent of that future support “will be determined by the financial performance of the 2020 US Open and the impact that the current pandemic has on the event.”

Earlier, it had announced on March 23 the creation of Tennis Industry United, a collaboration of the USTA and other tennis organizations and media partners that is assessing overall industry needs and making recommendations for industry sectors in need of immediate relief.

The USTA said the rescue package, including grants to help facilities reopen, assistance for certified instructors and program support and grants and scholarships to organizations supporting under-served communities, will amount to a commitment of more than $50 million in spending towards grassroots tennis. EFE-EPA

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