US Open backflips on wheelchair event after player backlash

The US Open’s wheelchair event will go ahead this year, organisers confirmed today, after a barrage of player backlash over its initial decision to abandon the event.

Australian tennis sensation Dylan Alcott has been particularly vocal, taking to Twitter last week to express his sadness and disappointment at the decision.

“Just got announced that the US Open will go ahead WITHOUT wheelchair tennis. Players weren’t consulted. 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,” Alcott wrote.

“And please do not tell me I am a ‘greater risk’ because I am disabled. I am disabled yes but that does not make me SICK. I am fitter and healthier than nearly everybody reading this right now. There are no added risks.”

The 29-year-old has won 16 wheelchair Grand Slams, including six Australian Open singles titles.

Big thanks to the @usopen for reversing their decision – now allowing wheelchair players to compete at the 2020 Open. And most importantly thanks to you reading this for supporting us and sharing the message – you made this happen.

The announcement from the United States Tennis Association (USTA) comes after it conceded it could have communicated better with players before leaving them out of this year’s reduced schedule, designed to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

This year there will be no spectators, the number of teams within the men’s and women’s doubles events will be halved and there will be no mixed doubles or juniors competitions.

“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 today.

“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.”

Australia’s Dylan Alcott deemed the initial decision from US Open organisers as “disgusting discrimination”. Pic: Michael KleinSource:News Corp Australia

Alcott thanked organisers for reversing their decision.

“Most importantly thanks to you reading this for supporting us and sharing the message – you made this happen,” he said.

All athletes will take the same health and safety procedures and will start practice at the tennis centre on September 7.

Originally published as‘Disgusting discrimination’: US Open backflips

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