(Reuters) – Australia has postponed its biggest golf tournaments to 2022 due to COVID-19, organisers said on Friday.
The Australian PGA Championship will be moved from a December slot to Jan. 13-16 in Brisbane, while the Nov. 25-28 Australian Open in Sydney has been pushed back to late-January or February.
“These decisions are not taken lightly when we are talking about our flagship tournaments that are playing opportunities for our members,” PGA of Australia boss Gavin Kirkman said in a statement.
“But as much as the number of COVID-19 cases is a big concern, it’s also the quarantine requirements that make it difficult to run golf tournaments.
“Not all countries require international visitors to quarantine — America for example — and that puts Australia at a disadvantage in an international sport.”
Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s largest cities, and the capital Canberra are in the grip of a third wave of infections which has forced more than half the country’s 25 million people into lockdowns.
Australia’s mandatory 14-day quarantine for international arrivals is also a huge obstacle for local tournaments to lure the country’s best players home from the U.S. and European golf tours.
Organisers cancelled the 2020 editions of the Australian Open and PGA Championship due to the pandemic.
Golf Australia boss James Sutherland said quarantine would likely remain a barrier for any national or international golf events in the country.
“Golfers are sole traders, they are not earning anything if they sit in quarantine for a fortnight,” he said.
Australia has said it plans to reopen the country when 70-80% of adults have received two COVID vaccination shots but officials have given no detail about easing quarantine rules.
About 36% of adults are fully vaccinated in one of the world’s slowest roll-outs among developed countries.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)