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Tennis Australia Secures Extra Funds For Australian Open

Tennis Australia has secured a loan from the Victorian government to help cover the cost of this summer’s Australian Open in Melbourne for the February 8th delayed start.

Tennis Australia CEO, Craig Tiley, told The Australian Financial Review the organisation would exhaust savings, which it holds over $80 million, but was taking a concessionary loan from the government, supplemented by the private sector, to help cover the $60 million shortfall.

The Victorian Government confirmed the exact figure of the loan was confidential, but said the Australian Open contributes $387.7 million to visitor economy and Tennis Australia had extended Melbourne as the event’s home until 2039.

“We have a reserve fund of $80 million in cash, so we will exhaust that fund,” Tiley said.

“Then we are going to take a loan, a combination of commercial and government.

“We are busy negotiating that loan at the moment.

“It is designed in ensuring we get the event off.

“If you add up the quarantine costs and revenue losses, ticketing and partnership losses, you are looking at needing around $140 million extra, so we have to take a loan, use our cash reserve, and rely on government to offset some of the quarantining costs,” he said.

Tiley revealed the Australian Open was the only tennis event other than Wimbledon that had pandemic insurance but said that unique cover ran out in 2020 and could not be renewed, leaving the organising body vulnerable and highly exposed. 

“Us and Wimbledon both had pandemic insurance, we have had it for the last five years,” Tiley said.

“There was a lot of consternation in the organisation on why we had it and pay a lot of money for it but for both of us it runs out at the end of this year.

“We were negotiating an extension back in February, March, but all the insurance companies held off and now you can’t get it,” he said.

Tennis Australia has also confirmed if Melbourne continues with zero community transmissions of COVID-19, the organisers are expecting to hold 50% crowd capacity for the Australian Open in February.

“We had 840,000 last year, so we expect to get to half of that,” Tiley said.

“Most will be reserved seating,” he said.

The players set to compete in the Grand Slam are due to arrive from January 15 and 16 and enter bubbles across at least three hotels, Crown, Grand Hyatt and the View at Albert Park, with strict rules to allow training for up to five hours a day.

Players will also need a confirmed negative COVID-19 test, before and after arriving, to enter the bubbles, with Tiley confirming the players will face $20,000 fines for any breaches.

The total prize pool for the 2021 Australian Open will remain at the 2020 level of $71.5 million.