Sport Tennis US Open to host wheelchair event after player backlash
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US Open to host wheelchair event after player backlash

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US Open organisers have been forced into a surprise backflip over the inclusion of the wheelchair competition at this year’s event, following criticism led by Aussie wheelchair star Dylan Alcott.

This year’s US Open tennis tournament, to be staged September 10-13 in New York, will include wheelchair competition after all, after a change in plans by the US Tennis Association.

The switch came after “multiple virtual meetings with a group of wheelchair athletes and the International Tennis Federation over the last week,” the USTA said in a news release.

Alcott successfully led the voices calling for a change of heart and lamented the lack of consultation.

Now there will be men’s and women’s singles and doubles and quad singles doubles at Flushing Meadows.

Wheelchair athletes can access the tournament site from September 7.

The USTA acknowledged on Friday it should have consulted wheelchair athletes before originally deciding to cancel their competition in New York.

Two days earlier the association had revealed its plans for holding the US Open amid the coronavirus pandemic, including reductions to various competitions to limit the number of people onsite for greater social distancing.

The initial schedule dropped wheelchair, junior and mixed doubles competitions altogether, along with singles qualifying, while the fields for women’s and men’s doubles were halved to 32 teams apiece.

Alcott had led the charge to change the USTA’s mind, openly expressing his frustration on social media.

“Just got announced that the US Open will go ahead WITHOUT wheelchair tennis… Players weren’t consulted,” he posted last week after the announcement.

“I thought I did enough to qualify — 2x champion, number 1 in the world. But unfortunately I missed the only thing that mattered, being able to walk. Disgusting discrimination.”

The 29-year-old has 16 grand slam titles, including the quad singles event at six Australian Opens, once at the French Open and once at Wimbledon.

Alcott will now be able to attempt to win a second US Open quad singles title.

Questions have been raised about the future of this year’s overall tournament, following Novak Djokovic’s exhibition series, the Adria Cup, which has resulted in the men’s world number one and three other players testing positive to COVID-19.

-with agencies