The US Open is in disarray after the tournament had to respond to a farcical mistake that sparked Covid-19 chaos.
Tennis fans had to wait in huge lines for up to two hours on Monday to participate in the US Open – amid a mandate instituted last week requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination.
The tournament in Flushing Meadows, Queens, officially started at 11 a.m., but by 1:30 p.m. thousands were still waiting to show their COVID-19 vaccination cards and go through metal detectors to enter Arthur Ashe Stadium – with some fans matches were missing as a result.
“Someone screwed up,” Yonkers hairstylist Helen W., 59, told The Post.
She and her two daughters waited at the East Gate for nearly an hour while the line “barely moved,” before being directed to the South Gate at around noon, “where the line was ridiculously long!”
“Just over 45 minutes on that line, and we’re finally getting in after missing the first two hours,” she bellowed. “Something went wrong!”
A tweeter – responding to the US Open posting footage of the game between players Kristina Kucova and Ann Li – wrote: “Unfortunately missing because of this insane rule.”
At the South Gate, at about 12:30 p.m., the line of some 5,000 fans stretched for about a quarter of a mile, beyond the Unisphere. About 3,000 fans lined up in front of the East Gate, going back about 300 meters around the same time.
Staff warned cardholders to have their vax cards and bags ready when they finally got to the front of the line.
“It’s never been this bad,” said Brian Schopenhauer, a 44-year-old Connecticut jeweler.
While one of his buddies arrived at the stadium early and burst through security when the gates opened around 9:30 am, Schopenhauer and dozens of others weren’t so lucky.
“At 10:30 a.m. it was like a cattle call,” the fan said. “A big crowd at the main entrance and everyone is pushing for the [East] gate.
“We all walked around for over an hour before they started getting organized,” sending part of the group to the South Gate, he added, noting that it still took him over half an hour to get the metal detectors on. to achieve.
At around 2pm, the lines narrowed – after more staffers were appointed to man the entrance checkpoints.
The US Open is the first tennis tournament to run at full throttle since the pandemic.
The USTA announced Friday that only vaccinated fans with documentation Flushing Meadows will be admitted, despite tickets going on sale two months ago without restrictions.
The organization in a statement on Monday blamed the long wait at the gates on fans who brought “an inordinate number of bags this year” and the crowd who “arrived later than they generally have in the past”. The agency claimed the delay mainly affected the baggage check-in area.
“The USTA is exploring ways to improve this process to ensure faster entry into the rest of the tournament,” the statement said. “The process of checking vaccination evidence appears to be running smoothly and is not a major contributor to impeding access to the site.”