The Australian Open will "most likely" be delayed by one or two weeks, a Victoria government minister has admitted, with organisers continue to discuss what impact the coronavirus pandemic will have on players arriving in Australia.
The state of Victoria reached 25 days without a Covid-19 case on Wednesday, although players will still be required to quarantine when heading to the country, which is planning to host its Australian Open warm-up tournaments in Melbourne to limit movement.
On Saturday, Tennis Australia claimed a report the opening Grand Slam of 2021 would move back from its original dates of January 18-31 was speculation, but Victorian Sports and Tourism Minister Martin Pakula has said that is now likely.
"There's a number of potential dates on the table," Pakula told reporters. "I've seen reports that suggest that it's likely to be delayed by a week or two. I think that's still most likely.
But it's not the only option. As you know, the French Open was delayed by many months and Wimbledon didn't occur at all. I still think it's much more likely that it will be a shorter rather than longer delay.
"The quarantine requirements will be those that are ultimately agreed with the public health (authorities) and then it will be a matter for the ATP and the WTA about whether or not they are acceptable.
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"An extremely rigorous testing regime will apply to the players both before they leave the port that they come in from and when they arrive."
Meanwhile, Victoria's Premier Dan Andrews added the state would not jeopardise its "coronavirus status" and said dates are being finalised.
Andres said: "We'll have an Australian Open tennis tournament, but (it'll) have to look different.
"The rest of the world is on fire so there will be quarantine for anyone coming to our city and state, there's just no way around it. I think the timing will be close to the normal timing, those details are being finalised.
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"As important as a tennis tournament is, we're not going to jeopardise our coronavirus status by anything other than the highest standards."
Players must be able to train ahead of Australian Open - Medvedev
ATP Finals champion Daniil Medvedev says players health will be at risk if quarantine restrictions prevent them from playing or practising in the run-up to the Australian Open.
"I'm going to go to Australia when we can to avoid any circumstances that would change your mind about competing there," world number four Medvedev told CNN.
"If, for instance, you weren't able to compete or to train during quarantine just ahead of the tournament, I don't think the tournament is going to happen."
Organisers of this year's U.S. and French Opens established bio-secure 'bubbles' for players, who were not allowed to leave their hotel rooms except to train and play.
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Medvedev said it would be "dangerous" for players to be confined to a hotel room for two weeks after arriving in Australia and then going straight into a Grand Slam.
"(I'm) not complaining that it's boring or something like this," the Russian added.
"It's just that going out from the room after 14 days of not doing anything and (then) playing five sets right away, I think would be really dangerous for the health of any sportsman."
Additional reporting from Reuters