Otago Open impacted by Covid

Low entries for Otago’s pinnacle tennis event are disappointing but not unexpected, tournament organisers say.

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the Otago Open, which begins in Dunedin today and runs until Sunday.

Numbers were listed at 26 earlier this week, although were expected to be "closer to 20" with withdrawals.

Tournament director Ahmad Abdul-Rahman said the Omicron outbreak sweeping the country likely impacted on that.

The outbreak had hit the younger demographic harder so far, and the tournament typically drew from that group.

He said there were entrants from Auckland who had withdrawn this week.

The women’s singles event had also been cancelled due to non-viability, which he dubbed a "huge shame".

Despite that, he said the decision was made to go ahead so those who were able to play were given the opportunity.

"It’s one of those things where we could simply not hold it, and we have done that with recent tournaments," Abdul-Rahman said.

"But as we moved into the phased Omicron response, it was almost, well, we can hold it, so maybe we’ll just hold it and accept that it’s not going to be ideal."

Former Otago representative Ryan Eggers, who is now based in Auckland, will return to play in the event.

He is joined by Paddy Ou, who has returned to Otago after studying in Wellington, as well as fellow local hope Mitchell Sizemore.

Abdul-Rahman said the event would be run under Red light protocols, although that would not be an issue.

"We have been doing it for a while now, so we’re well accustomed.

"There’s no spectators at the indoor venue and restrictions for spectators for outdoor venues is how it’s run.

"People are used to the standard protocols with the distancing and masks now. It’s a vaccine pass event, but that’s been the way for some time now."

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