Australian Open warm-up event in Auckland scrapped again due to COVID

New Zealand has maintained strict border controls through the pandemic and requires international arrivals to quarantine for two weeks.

American great Serena Williams won the women's title at the Auckland Classic in 2020, her first as a mother.   -  Getty Images

The Auckland Classic has fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic again with organisers confirming on Wednesday that the Australian Open warm-up event has been put off for a second year in a row.

Having cancelled the 2021 edition of New Zealand's premier tournament slated for last January, organisers said the 2022 event was not feasible due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"We are incredibly disappointed that we won’t be able to bring the ASB Classic back to Auckland this summer, but current immigration and quarantine requirements mean it’s just not feasible," Tennis Auckland Chairman Simon Vannini said in a statement.

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"We are working closely with Tennis NZ on some alternative ideas that we think will keep tennis fans excited."

New Zealand has maintained strict border controls through the pandemic and requires international arrivals to quarantine for two weeks.

The Auckland Classic, a stop on both the ATP Tour and WTA circuit, has been a prominent tune-up event for players heading to the year's first Grand Slam in Melbourne.

Past winners have included Serena and Venus Williams and former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens.

A number of other Australian Open warm-up events, including the season-opening ATP Cup, were cancelled in January due to Australia's similarly strict COVID-19 restrictions.

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Australian Open organisers sustained huge losses in staging the postponed Grand Slam safely in February, flying in more than 1,000 players, coaches and officials to Melbourne on charter planes and paying for their two-week hotel quarantine.

The Australian government has said the country's borders could remain shut until mid-2022, but Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said last month organisers would "make it work" in Melbourne in January.

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