June 24, 2020 / 6:19 PM / 2 months ago

Tennis-U.S. Open to hold wheelchair event after player backlash

June 24 (Reuters) - The organisers of the U.S. Open said on Wednesday they will include a wheelchair tournament at this year’s Grand Slam in New York following a wave of player backlash over their initial decision to scrap the event.

The United States Tennis Association’s announcement comes five days after the national governing body said they could have better communicated with wheelchair athletes before leaving them out of a plan that was aimed at stemming the spread of COVID-19 and were rethinking their decision.

“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.

“The 2020 U.S. Open Wheelchair Competition will feature men’s and women’s singles and doubles and quad Singles and doubles, with draw sizes similar to past U.S. Opens.”

Australian Paralympic tennis champion Dylan Alcott led the backlash after the original plans for the Aug. 31-Sept 13 U.S. Open were revealed last week.

Alcott slammed the omission of the wheelchair tournament, calling it “disgusting discrimination” and said players posed no greater health threat than able-bodied entrants.

The changes at this year’s U.S. Open include no spectators, reducing the number of teams in the men’s and women’s doubles events by half and the elimination of the mixed doubles and juniors competitions. (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto Editing by Toby Davis)

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