Kooyong Classic in 2021 canceled due to COVID-19 concerns

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — An annual pre-Australian Open tune-up event has been canceled because of the expected COVID-19 restrictions in Melbourne.

The three-day Kooyong Classic had been scheduled to be held in the week before the Jan. 18-31 Australian Open. It has been played since 1988, when the season-opening tennis major moved from Kooyong to its permanent site at Melbourne Park.

Kooyong officials on Thursday said the tournament will return in 2022 with an extended clubhouse and other increased facilities to allow for more spectators at the venue.

“We really feel that this is the right thing to do,” Kooyong club president Peter Carew said. “At this stage there are so many unknowns. There is also the uncertainty around the Australian Open and how other events around it will be presented, which adds other complexities in planning.”

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley has said he remains confident the Grand Slam tournament will go ahead, even without spectators if necessary. Players and officials could be required to stay in a bio-secure bubble similar to what is being used at the U.S. Open.

Melbourne has been the hardest-hit Australian city by a second wave of COVID-19, and residents remain in lockdown and under a night curfew.

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