A sign reminding onlookers of proper health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease is seen inside the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center ahead of the start of the U.S. Open tennis Grand Slam tournament, in the Queens borough of New York City. Image Credit: Reuters

New York: Spectators will not be allowed to attend qualifying rounds at this month’s U.S. Open in New York because of health and safety reasons amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) said.

The qualifying rounds are to be held at Flushing Meadows a week before the main competition kicks off on Aug. 30.

“This was a particularly tough decision for the USTA to make, given the immense popularity of U.S. Open Qualifying among fans,” the USTA said in a statement on Thursday.

Health and safety

“But after consulting with local health authorities and the U.S. Open medical team, it was determined that it was the right decision to ensure the health and safety of all.” The USTA said more than 2,500 people, including athletes, their team and other personnel, are expected to be on site during the qualifying rounds.

In June, the USTA said it would allow full fan capacity for the main part of the tournament that will run until Sept. 12, making it the first Grand Slam to have full attendance amid the pandemic since the Australian Open last year.

The U.S. Open was held without spectators in 2020.