True or not, match-fixing reports overshadow Open
The “Happy Slam” got off to a sombre start when allegations of match-fixing in tennis overshadowed the opening day of play at the Australian Open.
Hours before the tournament started, the BBC and BuzzFeed reported that 16 players, all ranked in the top 50 at some stage and including at least one Grand Slam champion, had played in matches that had been flagged with tennis authorities because of suspicious betting patterns.
The reports also alleged tennis regulators hadn’t acted against those players, including some who were set to play at the first major tournament of the season.
It triggered news and reaction around the world, prompting the tennis hierarchy to stage an urgent news conference to refute the allegations.
Suspicion of corruption in parts of the broader game lingers, but the focus at the Australian Open has returned to the tennis court as the tournament comes to a close. “The match-fixing claims have created headlines, true, but we as an organization have been pleased with how the entire sport has responded,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley told The Associated Press. “It has been decisive and united.”
Being the start of the season and in Australia, the tournament usually has a laid-back vibe, and some players have dubbed it the “Happy Slam” for the atmosphere and hospitality. Tiley said crowd numbers and viewership showed the tournament hadn’t been overshadowed by the match-fixing reports.
“The best answer I can give to that is through the numbers,” Tiley said. “We are on track for a record crowd and our other exposure numbers across multiple platforms are also very strong.”