The Australian Open has announced a deal with Initial to become the official hygiene partner of the competition.
The new deal will see a safe staging of the Australian Open, which has been marred in coronavirus related controversy, with 72 athletes currently isolating following positive tests from carriers on flights to the host country.
“The health and safety of fans, officials, players and our Australian Open workforce is our number one priority and to partner with a trusted brand in Initial will help ensure fans are protected and can play it safe while enjoying a day at the tennis,” said Tennis Australia chief revenue and experiential officer Ben Slack.
"The hundreds of Initial touch-free hand sanitisers throughout the tournament precinct will be easily accessible to fans and will offer the best in hand hygiene protection.”
The partnership will allow for Initial to supply 800 touchless hand sanitiser and disinfection wipe stations across the precinct, as well as provide the disinfection services of the fleet of 130 cars used to transfer players and officials to and from Melbourne Park.
Pacific Managing Director of Initial Andrew Stone said: "COVID-19 has had such a massive impact on life as we know it. Sport, as part of the fabric of the Australian way of life, suffered substantially during 2020. As such Initial is both delighted and honoured to play a part in supporting the return of an event as significant and great as the Australian Open."
Fans will be allowed to attend the Grand Slam tournament and COVID-safe protocols will be expected to be followed, with messages of these safety measures being implemented into the big screen content and highly visible signage will be posted throughout the vicinity.
Meanwhile, Tennis Australia has confirmed a new revised schedule for the Australian Open in order to give players more time to prepare following the 14-day strict COVID-19 quarantines that players have had to endure.
The changes include the two lead-up ATP 250 events being held one day later, the ATP Cup has been postponed by one day and a WTA 500 event will run from February 3 to February 7.
"This has been a particularly challenging time for the athletes in hard lockdown and we, along with the WTA and ATP, aim to do everything we can to help," said Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia CEO and Australian Open tournament director.
"These changes to the lead-in events have been made to give the 72 players a little bit of extra time to help them prepare."
Author: Jake Wilkin