USTA makes ‘tough decision’ to ban spectators from 2021 US Open qualifiers due to COVID-19 concerns

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More than two months after the USTA announced it would allow 100 percent capacity for the entirety of the 2021 US Open, it reversed its stance on Thursday. The USTA announced it would ban fans from the qualifying rounds to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The US Open’s main draw is still open to the public. 

“This was a particularly tough decision for the USTA to make, given the immense popularity of US Open qualifying among fans, but after consulting with local health authorities and the US Open medical team, it was determined that it was the right decision to ensure the health and safety of all,” the USTA said in a statement. 

According to the USTA, more than 2,500 athletes and their “entourages” will need access to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York during qualifying week, which will run Aug. 24-27. That’s the greatest number of people slated to be on-site for the Open, which is a big reason why the USTA is keeping fans away. 

The US Open barred spectators in 2020 for COVID-19 protocols. In that tournament, Naomi Osaka and Dominic Thiem won the women’s singles and men’s singles events, respectively. Mate Pavić and Bruno Saures won it all in men’s doubles, while Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva did the same in women’s doubles. 

Qualifying for the US Open will run Aug. 24-27 on ESPN News. The main draw, slated for Aug. 30 through Sept. 12, will be available to watch on ESPN+. 





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