The US Open finishes on Sunday having largely pulled off what was once seen as impossible: hosting an international sports mega-event amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
With 6 500 coronavirus tests and more than 25,000 temperature checks administered, the tournament offered a glimpse into how tennis could adapt in the global, deadly pandemic era.
Months after its famed Flushing Meadows venue hosted a field hospital amid a surge of COVID-19 cases, the 2020 US Open kicked off with no fans in attendance and numerous rules in place designed to mitigate health risks.
Masks were required and high-fives banned, with signs reminding those in attendance to maintain proper social distancing. Inside the cafeteria, staff members slid cups of coffee to patrons from behind a clear, plastic shield, and patrons were asked to stand apart from one another.
“These four weeks have been able to demonstrate to the world how our sport can return to play safely,” said Tournament Director Stacey Allaster. “New York rallied. The US Open rallied.”
However, there were moments of controversy.
France’s Benoit Paire was pulled from the tournament the weekend before it began after testing positive for COVID-19, with a handful of other players forced into “enhanced protocol” – otherwise referred to as the “bubble within the bubble” – after having contact with him.