Putting the ‘Open’ Back Into the U.S. Open

Putting the ‘Open’ Back Into the U.S. Open

Dr. Branas was also concerned about the roofs and the ventilation of Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong stadiums when they are closed. He noted the “three Vs” that experts focus upon regarding the current situation: Vaccinations, the variant and ventilation.

“A closed roof, even if there is some opening on the side, is not optimal,” he said.

Similarly, Mayor de Blasio had insisted that either a vaccine mandate be imposed for the two stadiums, or the roofs on both would have to remain open, even in rain. The U.S.T.A., which spent more than $150 million on those roofs, was loath to see the costly structures sit idle in wet conditions, gumming up the tournament’s scheduling and frustrating ESPN, the main broadcaster.

So it opted for the vaccine solution, and took it even further than the mayor recommended, mandating vaccines for all fans, not just those with tickets to Ashe or Armstrong. The U.S.T.A. exceeded the mayor’s requirements because about 90 percent of ticket buyers this year hold tickets to Ashe, anyway, according to the U.S.T.A., and doing the screening on the outside the grounds was seen as more efficient than doing it inside.

Louis Marciani, the founder of the Innovation Institute for Fan Experience, which focuses on the safety and health of fans at sporting events, applauded the tournament’s ultimate protocols, even if they were hastily reconfigured.

“We as an organization support their decision because it is based on scientific evidence and local conditions,” he said. “Let’s face it, this might not be such a good idea in a place like Las Vegas that does not have as high a vaccination rate.”

Brian Hainline, a physician and a member of the U.S.T.A.’s medical advisory board, said the goal was not to prevent a single infection, but to prevent an outbreak.

After that, it’s all about the tennis and the $25 lobster rolls, the end of summer and the whisper of autumn in New York. And maybe a Grand Slam, too.

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