US Open to allow 100% fan capacity in 2021

The US Open tennis tournament will allow 100% spectator capacity throughout its entire two weeks in 2021, a year after spectators were banned from the event because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced Thursday that all tickets for courts and grounds passes will go on sale in July. The year's final Grand Slam is scheduled to be held at Flushing Meadows in New York from Aug. 30 to Sept. 12.

The USTA's decision to return to its usual number of people on site is the latest step in a return to normal for New York -- and for fans of various sports as the world emerges from more than a year of coronavirus restrictions.

On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said many of the state's remaining social distancing rules would be eased because 70% of its adults have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. The New York Mets announced Wednesday that they will return to full capacity next week.

For tennis, the US Open will be the first Grand Slam to have full attendance since the Australian Open in January-February 2020 -- shortly before the coronavirus outbreak was deemed a pandemic.

The USTA held the 2020 US Open with no spectators at all, significantly altering the atmosphere and competitive conditions at an event where raucous crowds are a part of the scenery, especially during night sessions at 23,771-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium.

More than 700,000 people attended the 2019 US Open.

The recently concluded French Open let more than 5,000 spectators into the Roland Garros grounds each day during Week 1, and that rose to more than 13,000 people by the end. The main stadium, Court Philippe Chatrier, was limited to 5,000 fans -- about one-third of capacity -- for the singles finals last weekend.

The All England Club and British government announced this week that Centre Court would be filled at 50% capacity when Wimbledon starts June 28, with that rising to 100% by the women's and men's singles finals on the closing weekend of July 10-11.

Wimbledon was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic, the first time since 1945 that tournament wasn't held.