The U.S. Open 2020 was initially canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Still, the United States Tennis Association announced a few months ago that it would proceed as scheduled but with caution and some major adjustments. Some players were happy about it; others were not; some are still contemplating, while others like 33-year-old Andy Murray are ready to take the risk to play.
The United States Tennis Association(USTA) approved of the decision to hold the tournament and outlined some safety measures including the fact that fans will be absent, “the USTA will take extraordinary precautions to protect players and staff including robust testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space and dedicated housing and transportation.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had announced in June.
Former World number 1, Murray says he missed playing at a major tournament. He has had his toll with injuries since 2017 and sees this tournament as an opportunity to bounce back. “the situation I’ve been in the last few years, I’ve not had the opportunity to play in many slams. I don’t know how many opportunities I’ll have left to play in slams, so while I’m feeling relatively decent, there is a risk there, but I want to play in them and enjoy the biggest events again.”
He spoke at the Battle of The Brits Team Tennis event, “even though this will be different with no fans, but that is something I care about and willing to take a risk to go and play,” Murray added. He, together with his coach, will stay in a hotel near the site where the USTA will set up strict biosecurity to minimize the risk of getting infected during the Grand Slam. The Western and Southern Open, which would have been held in Cincinnati, was moved to New York because of the pandemic.
Mandatory quarantine is said to rule out player’s participation in other ATP and WTA clay-court events that were scheduled in Europe before the French Open at the end of September, and Murray has concerns and expectations. “My understanding is that it would be sorted out before we go to America, but things can change in the next 10 to 12 days,” Murray said.
“Hopefully, before we leave, the players will have the assurances that when they come back from America, they won’t have to quarantine for two weeks. If that’s the case, and if you do well in the U.S. Open, you can’t just arrive on Sunday before the French Open starts on Monday; that’s not going to work,” he reasoned.
Murray was initially in a dilemma as to whether to play or not, and he had said he was still mentally preparing and was worried about getting into flights for the first time in months. It seems he has finally made his decision; he has some trust in the Association’s decisions and laid down protocols. Murray also encourages other players to abide by the rules put in place since there have been instances in the NBA and PGA Tour, where players have left the bubble, posing a danger to other teammates.
Some notable stars may not go to New York
Defending champion Rafael Nadal and world number 1 Novac Djokovic may not go to New York since they feel their health and safety and are not exactly guaranteed.
Nick Kyrgios has opted out. He believes that he is “sitting out for the people, for the Aussies, for the hundreds and thousands of Americans that have lost their lives, for all of you.” He criticized some of his teammates and professionals for deciding to ignore their health and the health of others to play.
Women’s number 1 Ashleigh Barty also opted out, the 22-year-old believes that there are significant risks involved due to the pandemic and she is not comfortable risking her life, that of her family and teammates.
The concerns of some of these players who are sitting out can be understood considering the high number of coronavirus cases in New York. A vaccine or a cure isn’t making way to us anytime soon, but some of these players also claim that sports is their life, and they’ll do everything for it. Indeed, sport is life but shouldn’t we think about the lives of the people that are bringing the sports to us?