Golf-Australia cancels men's and women's Opens due to COVID-19


FILE PHOTO: Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland looks on during a news conference at a hotel in Sandton, South Africa March 27, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia has cancelled its men's and women's Open tournaments in a hammer blow for the struggling domestic game as COVID-19 and travel restrictions continue to bite.

Organisers had planned a late-January, early-February window for the men's Australian Open in Sydney after its original November schedule proved untenable.

But Golf Australia boss James Sutherland said enduring travel curbs and the country's mandatory 14-day quarantine had left organisers with no choice but to cancel the flagship event for a second year in a row.

"The international element means shifting quarantine and travel restrictions wreak havoc on planning and, with our marquee players living abroad, the challenge is even greater," Sutherland said in a statement on Thursday.

"The pressure and risk on host venues and organisers is also high - these are small businesses who have already faced huge disruption due to the pandemic."

The women's Australian Open, a stop on the elite LPGA Tour, had been scheduled for February in Adelaide.

Australia's borders are effectively shut and unlikely to open to non-residents until 2022, while the two-week isolation is putting off the nation's top players from coming home from the U.S. and European tours to support the domestic game.

The country's other marquee golf event, the Australian PGA Championship, will plough ahead in Brisbane from Jan. 13, though many home-based professionals will be unable to attend.

Queensland state, of which Brisbane is the capital, has shut its borders to southeastern states that are battling COVID-19 outbreaks.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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