US Open to hold wheelchair event after player backlash

After a player backlash led by Dylan Alcott, organisers decided to include a wheelchair tournament in the US Open this year.

Dylan Alcott led a player backlash against the possible scrapping of the event.   -  REUTERS

US Open organisers said on Wednesday they will include a wheelchair tournament at this year’s Grand Slam following a player backlash over their decision to scrap the event as part of measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. The United States Tennis Association’s announcement comes five days after the national governing body said it was rethinking its decision and that it could have better communicated with wheelchair athletes.

“The decision was made following multiple virtual meetings with a group of wheelchair athletes and the International Tennis Federation over the last week,” the USTA said in a statement.

“The 2020 US Open Wheelchair Competition will feature men’s and women’s singles and doubles and quad singles and doubles, with draw sizes similar to past US Opens.”

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Australian Paralympic tennis champion Dylan Alcott, who led the player backlash and had described the exclusion as “disgusting discrimination,” thanked organisers for reversing the decision. “I was in tears (when the event was excluded),” the twice US Open champion said on Australia’s Channel Nine.

'Turning point'

“It was just because it was so hard sometimes, growing up with a disability, where able-bodied people decide which restaurant you go in to, which school you go in to, which tennis tournaments you can play. It’s a huge turning point to show how supportive a community can be and from the bottom of my heart, I can’t say thanks enough.”

The changes at this year’s US Open in New York include no spectators, reducing the number of teams in the men’s and women’s doubles events by half, and the elimination of the mixed doubles and juniors competitions.

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