The skilled circuit was shut down for 5 months in 2020 earlier than event organizers arrange biosecure bubbles for gamers and assist employees whereas conserving followers away from stadiums.
The disruption has been much less extreme in 2021 however tournaments, barring the swing in Australia in February, proceed to be performed in entrance of a handful of followers at greatest.
The absence of spectators has not simply robbed tournaments of ambiance and sapped the vitality of gamers who thrive on it, however has additionally had a savage influence on funds.
ATP tournaments incurred losses of between $60 and $80 million final 12 months, damage by last-minute cancellations, a wipeout of ticketing income in absence of spectators and a 30 p.c drop in proceeds from sponsorships.
And, with the added burden of expenditure on well being protocols, it has led to a discount in prize cash right down to 50 p.c of ranges earlier than the pandemic.
“With all the estimates that we have done, we think we can sustain this year,” ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi informed Reuters.
Gaudenzi mentioned sponsorship income plunged about 30 p.c on common since the begin of the pandemic, with the Masters 1000 occasions — the degree under the grand slams — counting on ticket gross sales for 45 p.c of their proceeds.
Herwig Straka, one of three members of the ATP board representing event house owners, mentioned the name on whether or not to proceed working occasions with out followers might come right down to a enterprise resolution.
“It’s about finding the right balance between enough prize money for players, especially for lower-ranked players, to survive, and also for tournaments to continue,” Straka mentioned.
“And obviously for the smaller tournaments this challenge is higher. So not only as a business but also as a sport we definitely need spectators to return sooner than later … we cannot survive without having spectators.”
‘Required and acceptable’
The males’s governing physique will spend as much as $5.2 million — primarily taken from the bonus pool for the prime 12 eligible gamers at the finish of the season — to spice up prize cash at its occasions till Wimbledon.
The WTA needed to fund the total prize cash of $565,530 for its season opener in Abu Dhabi from its personal funds.
“The reduction in prize money levels that are in place for 2021 is not something anyone wants to see,” WTA CEO Steve Simon informed Reuters.
“However, with the compromised revenue streams from ticketing and sponsorship being dealt with, the reductions are required and appropriate.”
Before her early exit from this week’s WTA 1000 occasion in Dubai, world No. 5 Elina Svitolina mentioned decreased purses might probably have an effect on motivation.
Americans John Isner and Reilly Opelka had been much less diplomatic once they hit out at ATP administration just lately for not taking wage cuts whereas gamers successfully had been.
Gaudenzi mentioned that even in the worst case situation, the ATP was nonetheless monitoring to ship 2021 prize cash ranges of about $180 million, 23 p.c lower than 2019.
“It’s still not a terrible result, considering the challenges we face,” the Italian mentioned, including that the majority tournaments could be comfortable to interrupt even in 2021.
With vaccines towards the virus beginning to roll out, tennis bosses had been hopeful that restrictions on spectators would begin to be relaxed.
“A no-crowd formula that extended into the future would require a restructuring of how sports in general would proceed,” mentioned WTA’s Simon.
“We are beginning to see a pathway for fans to begin returning at restricted levels as 2021 progresses and hopefully a significant move towards full stadiums in 2022.”