Was it worth it? Definitely! Was it expensive? Very! The 2021 Australian Open is coming to a close and we can say that overall the tournament was a success, but it was far from a smooth ride and organizing such a big sporting event amid the COVID-19 pandemic came at a hefty price.
Tournament director Craig Tiley said that those five days without fans on site and all the coronavirus-related protocols, especially the “hard quarantine”, have cost the Australian Open immense amounts of money. In particular, it is expected that the Grand Slam will record a loss of more than $78 million (AU$100 million).
To prevent the spread of coronavirus, spectator numbers had already been limited, but the Australian Open was hit extra hard when more than 100,000 tickets needed to be refunded because of an unexpected five-day lockdown in Victoria. The Grand Slam lasts 14 days, so that’s one-third of the tournament duration. Refunded ticket are just one segment, as the loss also involves decreased merchandise sales and less money from sponsors.
Tiley told Melbourne radio station SEN:
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.
Despite the negative balance, the Australian Open proved that international sporting events can take place during the pandemic. Tiley emphasized that only one player contracted the virus and the tournament hasn’t caused transmissions in the community. (source: ESPN)