Holding the Australian Open came at a very, very steep cost.
The tournament is expecting a loss of more than $78 million — roughly AU$100 million — for hosting the Grand Slam amid the COVID-19 pandemic, tournament director Craig Tiley said Friday, via ESPN.
The biggest reasons for the losses, Tiley said, were the lack of fans during a brief five-day lockdown in the state midway through the tournament and the “hard quarantine” players were forced to endure upon arrival in Melbourne.
"It's going to be tough [to look at the loss]," Tiley told Melbourne radio station SEN, via ESPN. "It's not going to be easy. We're going to lose multimillions of dollars on this event. "Obviously we took a big hit with five days with no fans, as you don't sell merchandise [and] sponsors don't get activation. You don't sell tickets or premium hospitality. So five of 14 days, that's a big hit.
"We have AU$80 million in reserve and we will exhaust that and we will take anywhere from a AU$40 to 60 million loan. It's a big loss, but we haven't finalized the number yet. We've still got to see what our receipts are."
‘Australia’s now got a playbook’
Obviously, losing nearly $80 million is never a good thing.
But considering how smooth the tournament has gone, Tiley doesn’t have many complaints.
Once players got through initial quarantines — some had to endure a two-week quarantine — only one player actually contracted the virus in Australia. Both the men’s and women’s final matches are set to take place on Saturday and Sunday.
With the event now nearly behind them, Tiley knows how valuable the experience is — both for Tennis Australia and for other sports organizations across the world.
"We said all along that it's important to do this because we have to have a platform to grow for 2022," Tiley said, via ESPN. "Australia's now got a playbook that we can share with the rest of the world.
"We've made Melburnians, Victorians and Australians proud that no one in the pandemic has brought in this many international stars from that many hot spots around the world and played an international sporting event for AU$86 million and in front of crowds. Maybe there's a way for us to get sports and entertainment up and going again. We've got the model and we've learned a lot."
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