Cuomo Announces Support of U.S. Open in New York

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Tuesday that the United States Open would be held as originally scheduled but without spectators at the U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, approving a plan by the United States Tennis Association to salvage the Grand Slam tournament, one of the biggest sporting events in New York.

“It will be held without fans, but we can watch it on TV, and I’ll take that,” the governor said.

The Open is scheduled for Aug. 31 to Sept. 13. It will be preceded by the Western & Southern Open, a combined men’s and women’s event that is usually held in Mason, Ohio, earlier in August. Instead, it will be moved to New York this year to centralize operations, manage costs and limit player travel. The Western & Southern Open will also be played without spectators.

The extraordinary doubleheader already had the backing of the leaders of the men’s and women’s tennis tours, which have been looking for a way to restart the sport and regenerate income during the coronavirus pandemic while also managing the misgivings of top players who have expressed concerns about safety and travel restrictions. The majority of professional tennis players are European, and most players are based outside the United States (18 of the top 120 women are American as are 10 of the top 120 men).

The U.S. Open’s new guidelines are likely to curtail players’ movements in New York and limit the size of their entourages to allow for social distancing at the National Tennis Center. Players and their staffs will be required to wear masks at the tennis center when not competing or training. Access to the locker room and other shared spaces will be regulated, and seeded players will have access to unused hospitality suites as lounge areas. Though there was once discussion of chartering planes to bring players to the tournament, the plan now is for them to travel on their own. There are unresolved questions about whether players and their teams will be required to quarantine when they arrive in and depart from the United States.

Though regional exhibitions are taking place, the professional tours have been shut down since mid-March, when the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif., was canceled shortly before it was to begin.

“We recognize the tremendous responsibility of hosting one of the first global sporting events in these challenging times, and we will do so in the safest manner possible, mitigating all potential risks,” Mike Dowse, the new chief executive of the U.S.T.A., said in a statement. “We now can give fans around the world the chance to watch tennis’s top athletes compete for a U.S. Open title, and we can showcase tennis as the ideal social distancing sport.”

It is unlikely that all of tennis’s top players will choose to play, which could spark debate about whether this year’s Open deserves an asterisk. The qualifying tournaments have been eliminated and doubles draws are expected to be reduced from 64 teams to 32.

“For me, a Slam isn’t a Slam without qualifying, doubles and mixed doubles,” tweeted Gabriela Dabrowski, a Canadian doubles specialist, on Tuesday. “It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when so many players are against this event moving forward yet it is moving forward anyway. I can fully sympathize with the financial situation everyone finds themselves in, but something just doesn’t feel right here.”

The normal singles draws of 128 players will be maintained and the U.S.T.A. also has insisted that the tournament continue to award ranking points despite protests from some players who believe that would penalize those who do not make the journey.

Other top players, including Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Simona Halep of Romania, have expressed doubts about playing.

John Millman, a veteran Australian who reached the quarterfinals of the 2018 U.S. Open, tweeted last week: “I love the U.S. Open but it seems a little crazy that we’re still contemplating playing a Grand Slam there, right?”

The Coronavirus Outbreak

  • Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

    Updated June 16, 2020

    • What is pandemic paid leave?

      The coronavirus emergency relief package gives many American workers paid leave if they need to take time off because of the virus. It gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose child care provider is unavailable because of the coronavirus. It is the first time the United States has had widespread federally mandated paid leave, and includes people who don’t typically get such benefits, like part-time and gig economy workers. But the measure excludes at least half of private-sector workers, including those at the country’s largest employers, and gives small employers significant leeway to deny leave.

    • Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?

      So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare,” but she later walked back that statement.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • How does blood type influence coronavirus?

      A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • How do I take my temperature?

      Taking one’s temperature to look for signs of fever is not as easy as it sounds, as “normal” temperature numbers can vary, but generally, keep an eye out for a temperature of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If you don’t have a thermometer (they can be pricey these days), there are other ways to figure out if you have a fever, or are at risk of Covid-19 complications.

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.

    • How do I get tested?

      If you’re sick and you think you’ve been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there’s a chance — because of a lack of testing kits or because you’re asymptomatic, for instance — you won’t be able to get tested.


The U.S.T.A.’s plan to hold the Open was widely considered far-fetched when New York was an epicenter of the pandemic and a section of the National Tennis Center was being used as a temporary 350-bed hospital.

But as the governor made clear on Tuesday, New York is no longer the epicenter. “Our rate of transmission is the lowest in the United States, having been the highest at one point,” he said, while continuing to urge caution from the public.

“You have to stay smart, and you have to stay responsible,” he said.

The absence of spectators will certainly be a financial hit for the U.S.T.A., which gets most of its funding from the tournament. More than 700,000 fans attended the 2019 U.S. Open, and the loss of revenue will include ticket sales, on-site hospitality and concessions. But the organization still has the support of its primary sponsors and ESPN, which pays more than $70 million annually in rights fees mainly to televise the tournament.

The U.S.T.A. intends to pay out approximately $52 million in prize money, close to the U.S. Open total of $57 million in 2019.

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