Novak Djokovic is welcome at Australian Open, says tournament director; Russian and Belarusian players can compete; and US has confirmed list of four Americans in top100
The Australian Open is the only Grand Slam tournament in the world with a confirmed entry list of players from non-traditional sports.
This is because Australian Open is one of rare sports tournaments in which a player can represent four different nations at one single major.
As such, the Australian Open organisers have an important, but non-negotiable responsibility.
To get it right, they’ve put together a tournament programme which includes entries from a range of sports including tennis, football, cricket, netball and basketball.
The tournament director, Craig Tiley, told the Guardian that every sport has its advantages and disadvantages.
“Everyone says it is the best tournament of the year, but the biggest disadvantage is we can’t get the top athletes from outside the top 10 in tennis to be there,” he said.
“It is a little bit of a pain. It is harder to draw these athletes, because the field is bigger.
“At the end of the day, this is a great privilege. We get all these beautiful people coming to see a great sporting event. That’s why I’ve made this decision. I don’t give a shit if you come from the football or tennis circuit, we will have your name on the programme.”
The organisers have taken steps to ensure every non-traditional athlete will be able to compete.
The programme includes a list of athletes who have expressed an interest in competing at the women’s singles event on Monday.
There were four Australians who applied to play in women’s singles. If they are selected, they will be the first non-traditional athletes to appear at a Grand Slam tournament.
Tiley said this was a “major coup” for the tournament which includes four top-20 players.
“You never like to have to put out people without a shot at the top of the rankings, but you have to in these kinds of tournaments,�