Michael Luevano, the Tournament Director of the Rolex Shanghai Masters event, says that his team is working on all possible scenarios to make the event happen if they receive the permission from the tennis bodies and local government officials to host the event.
The Rolex Shanghai Masters is scheduled from October 11th to October 18th and is the only Masters Series event in Asia. Speaking to the Tennis Majors website, Luevano says one of the major stumbling blocks to holding the event would be the travel restrictions around the world.
"For the Rolex Shanghai Masters: we’re in a unique position. We’re ideally positioned, I suppose, if the world were to get back to a semblance of normality. The real issue would be, I think, the travel restrictions that may be still in place leading into the tournament, which would certainly impact the ability for players to even access the China market, without potentially having to be in quarantine.
We are exploring a number of different options and precautions but ultimately in this country, it won’t be our decision: it will be the government’s decision if they want to proceed with a large scale sporting event or even an event that is played behind closed doors."
Luevano says that his team would need to know by the end of August or early September at the earliest in case they need to hold the event in order to ensure they have enough time to carry out the tournament. "I think probably the end of August or very early September, which would be pushing it.
And of course, the ATP will also have their position. But ultimately, it will come down to the local government telling us we can stage or we cannot stage the event. We’re a large company and we do a number of other sports events, including Formula One, and showjumping, and athletics so a number of our properties have been pushed into the fall but without dates, so because it’s so fluid, it changes from week to week.
But we’re optimistic. And our advantage, I suppose, is that we’re a government entity, so if unfortunately, we couldn’t stage an event this year, we’ll certainly be ready for 2021 with little impact.
The tournament is also preparing for all possible scenarios in case they receive permission to host the event, including chartering all players from one location in Europe, with Luevano comparing the current planning to a war room.
"It’s almost like playing a war game with the different scenarios and the options that could become available to us. Or what if this scenario happened? How do we plan for that? So it’s unique. It can be very creative.
But we’re learning new things actually! We’re pretty good at what we do across all of our sports properties that we’ve done for many years. So we would be prepared to react to three or four scenarios, given the opportunities to stage, whether that be no public, whether that be to quarantine the players in one specific hotel.
If we had to charter aircraft from one destination in Europe, we’ve gone through a number of different scenarios. Or if they could get into China, could we put everyone on an aircraft and just bring them in. Absolutely.
We’re prepared to go to great length for our stakeholders, for the ATP, for the city of Shanghai, and for our fans. Even if we had a limited audience, it still would be good for the fans. I’m optimistic. You have to be.
You have to stay motivated. It’s even too early to talk about it now until we see what happens, for example, at the US. Open. And we’re actually flexible to move later in October if needed."