Miami Open 2021 Changes Due to COVID-19

The Miami Open starts on March 22nd and ends on April 4th. With changes coming as a result of COVID-19, the tournament was forced to adapt for the safety of their fans and athletes

Victoria Mavarez

The Miami Open starts on March 22nd and ends on April 4th. With changes coming as a result of COVID-19, the tournament was forced to adapt for the safety of their fans and athletes

Michael Evelyn, Staff Writer

The Miami Open is one of the most popular professional tennis tournaments in the world. With the unique location of Miami and the wonderful site the tournament is held at, it is hard to miss. Because of its popularity, well-known players and spectators from all around the world come to enjoy the event once a year. Last year, the tournament was canceled a couple of weeks prior to the start of the event as a result of COVID-19. However, this year the tournament has been scheduled to take place with many restrictions in place to limit the spread of the virus.

One of the largest changes to the tournament this year is the spectator capacity that the organizers have put in place. As opposed to the usual thousands of people that show up, the tournament has decided that they would limit the number of spectators to 800. These spectators help build the atmosphere of the tournament and make the event much more enjoyable for everyone involved. With this limitation set, the atmosphere of the tournament does not feel the same for the viewers or the players who adore the crowds.

There are also a lot fewer spectators because many of the top players have decided not to play this tournament due to problems with COVID-19 or injuries. Players such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have announced that they will not be playing in the Miami Open this time around. These three athletes are the ones that multiple spectators want to go watch but, and since they are not participating, many of these fans decided to stay at home and not pay for the tickets.

“Even though some of these big players are not coming this year, it is still enjoyable to watch some of the newer players,” junior Isabella Flores said.

Another trick that is being used to limit the number of people attending the tournament is that the prices for tickets have increased. The price of seats of these courts is as high as 300 dollars which is a large increase from previous years. In previous years, the ticket prices for the same seats were closer to 200 dollars. This means that even fewer people are attending the event which takes away from the experience of going to one of these large tennis tournaments.

The tournament directors predicted this would happen and decided that they would not build the stadium either this year. Stadium court used to be a court that they would build in the center of the Hard Rock Stadium for special occasions such as this. They would have to build hundreds of seats for people to watch the most popular matches of the tournament. Due to the recent change in locations for the tournament from Key Biscayne to the Hard Rock Stadium, they have to build the entire stadium from scratch which is a lengthy and costly operation. Since there would not be too many fans attending the tournament, these directors decided to not build the stadium this year and make the second-largest court, The Grandstand, the replacement for the stadium court.

The amount of staff that will be working at the event has also changed. On the courts, there are normally up to nine-line officials and six ball people on the court to help speed the flow of the matches for the players. However, this year, to limit the amount of contact the players have, the line judges have been completely replaced by electronic line calling systems and the number of ball people on the court has been reduced to four. The amount of shop workers has also been decreased. This means that there are fewer people to work as security guards, vendors, camera operators or workers at the restaurants.

“I am a ball boy at this tournament and I think that even with COVID restrictions, it is an amazing experience. I think everyone should try and go to the tournament this year even if it is different from last year,” junior Oliver Michel said.

Overall, while the quality of the tournament may not be the same as in previous years, it will still be an amazing experience. Although many of the top players are not returning to Miami to compete, there will be many new young players that will be interesting to watch. Players like Felix Auger-Aliassime and Noami Osaka are two of these young players that will make for some interesting matches. Although there is no stadium court, many of the matches against these top players will be played on the Grandstand meaning spectators can get closer seats to the players.

The experience of the tournament this year will certainly be a unique one this year as a result of all the changes. With the limited amount of spectators, players, lack of stadium court and COVID restrictions it will be a different experience from previous years. However, it will still be exciting to go and see these players play live, even if the tournament does not feel the same as other years.

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