COVID crisis for Australian Open drinks partners

Drinks sponsors are breathing a sigh of relief following the news that tennis fans will be allowed back into Melbourne Park for the remainder of the Australian Open.

The Victorian government announced today that the state’s five-day lockdown ends at midnight on Wednesday, with crowds allowed back in the stands for the men’s and women’s singles semi-finals, which start on Thursday, and the finals over the weekend.

However, there’s a sting in the tail: attendance will be capped at 7,477 spectators for each session, which is approximately 50% capacity. At the start of the tournament, organisers allowed a maximum of 30,000 fans a day to watch from inside the venue.

It means the numerous bars and restaurants that have been shuttered during the lockdown can reopen. The tournament’s drinks partnerships were thrown into disarray just days into the Australian Open by the restrictions.

Professional athletes are deemed “essential workers” so the grand slam continued, but only behind closed doors, with Premier Daniel Andrews saying large-scale sporting events would operate as a “workplace” rather than an “entertainment venue”.

The Australian Open released a statement last Friday afternoon saying: “Tennis Australia continues to work with the government to ensure the healthy and safety of everyone.

“We are notifying ticketholders, players and staff that there will be no fans onsite at the AO for five days, commencing from Saturday 13 February.

“Full refunds will be available for anyone who has tickets for these sessions and they will be advised on how to apply as soon as possible.”

Australian Open 2021 drinks partners include Treasury Wine Estate, Piper Heidsieck, Peroni, Grainshaker and Canadian Club. All have onsite activations. They include:

A new Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Bar at the Rod Laver Arena terrace. The Champagne house said: “Tomorrow, we are back at the Australian Open and we are looking forward to opening our doors once again at the Piper-Heidsieck Champagne Bar on Day 11 of the tournament.”

Treasury Wine Estates’ The Penfolds Conservatory, a premium riverside dining experience showcasing Penfold’s luxury red and white wines in tasting flights. The winemaker also has a Squealing Pig pop-up bar at the Grand Slam.

Canadian Club’s C.C. Racquet Club pop-up bar on the upper terrace of Birrarung Marr.

The Peroni Aperitivo Bar at Grand Slam Oval, with direct access to Rod Laver Arena.

And the Grainshaker Australian Vodka Bar, which is located within the MCA Zone near the Western Courts. Grainshaker urged its Instagram followers to “make the most of your much-earned freedom this week”.

“We look forward to welcoming fans back to the Australian Open for the next four days and to finishing the event safely and on a high,” tournament director Craig Tiley said in the statement today.

“Last week we had our first real experience of live sport with fans in the stands and the atmosphere was electric.

“The players appreciated the opportunity to compete in front of crowds for the first time in almost a year, and many spoke about how emotional it was to connect with fans again.

“The COVIDSafe measures we had in place will continue, and we’ve opened up the zones so everyone can access the full site and enjoy both Grand Slam Oval and Garden Square.

“We are all looking forward to an incredible four days of tennis and can’t wait to see everyone back at the AO.”

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