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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday June 18, 2020

 
Dylan Alcott

Dylan Alcott led a protest of the US Open's decision to cancel wheelchair draws for 2020. It has led to a reversal.

Photo Source: Mark Peterson/ Corleve

Wheelchair tennis may end up being a part of the 2020 US Open.

After significant protest from some of the world’s best wheelchair players due to the fact that they had been overlooked by the tournament, the US Open has talked with and is in the process of addressing the needs of the players impacted by the tournaments’ initial decision to cut the draw from its 2020 event.

Led by the protests of Dylan Alcott, and backed by other Grand Slam champions such as Stephane Houdet, Alfie Hewett, Andy Lapthorne, Gordon Reid and Diede de Groot, the players have successfully won a change of heart from the organization after a phone call from the USTA. According to Houdet, the players have negotiated several options for the 2020 tournament.

They can:

1. Forgo the tournament and receive $150,000 compensation for all the playhers to share.

2. Play the tournament in October at Orlando.

3. Play in New York during the tournament and receive reduced compensation of $325,000 prize money payout for all events.

According to Stephane Houdet, the players will vote on the options on Monday.

Players originally took offense to the decision for several reasons. First, the players feel that if the tournament is easing its strictness around social distancing and allowing the top players more entourage members, it should be willing to grant wheelchair players their draws. The wheelchair events don’t take place until the second week, when the amount of activity at the site will be greatly diminished. Second, they felt that it was wrong that they were not consulted by anybody before the decision was made.

If they weren’t thought of prior to the decision, they are most certainly being thought of now.

The USTA released the following statement on Friday:

“On the call, the USTA acknowledged that the Association should have communicated directly, and worked in a collaborative manner with the wheelchair athletes when developing the plan for the 2020 US Open, as it had done with both the ATP and WTA. The USTA also committed to working with the players and the ITF to explore a number of potential scenarios for the Wheelchair Competition to determine the best approach moving forward for the athletes and the competition. The USTA expects to gather player feedback on their perspective and work with the ITF to finalize an approach to the 2020 US Open Wheelchair Competition.”

Prior to Friday, Alcott had been making the media rounds and expressed his disappointment in the way that wheelchair athletes had been treated in comparison to able bodied athletes.

He chatted with Andy Murray on the telephone for over 30 minutes and social media was buzzing with support for the players. Alcott called the US Open’s decision “disgusting discrimination” when he first heard the news.


 

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