Dylan Alcott has praised the US Open’s U-turn on its decision to exclude a wheelchair tournament at this year’s grand slam in New York, following a wave of player backlash after the event had initially been scrapped.
The United States Tennis Association confirmed on Wednesday the wheelchair event was back on the schedule after Alcott, twice a champion at Flushing Meadows, led the outcry over the omission and branded it “disgusting discrimination”.
“The decision of not allowing us to compete, without communication or consideration was bigger than tennis,” Alcott wrote on Twitter. “In years gone by decisions would have been made for us and no one would have cared. You cannot be treated differently because of your gender, race, religion or disability.
“This is a massive sign of progress for our community, and I appreciate all your help. I know there is a lot going on in the world at the moment, and the tournament might not even go ahead, but at least now we have the same rights as our able bodied counterparts – like we deserve.”
The national governing body said last week they could have better communicated with wheelchair athletes before leaving them out of a plan that was aimed at stemming the spread of Covid-19 and were rethinking their decision.
“The decision was made following multiple virtual meetings with a group of wheelchair athletes and the International Tennis Federation over the last week,” the USTA said in a statement. “The 2020 US Open wheelchair competition will feature men’s and women’s singles and doubles and quad singles and doubles, with draw sizes similar to past US Opens.”
Alcott, Australia’s 10-time grand slam champion, led the backlash after the original plans for the US Open were revealed last week. He was backed by a number of other leading players, including Roger Federer and Andy Murray.
The changes at this year’s US Open include no spectators, reducing the number of teams in the men’s and women’s doubles events by half and the elimination of the mixed doubles and juniors competitions.