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The Cleanest Open Ever

The Cleanest Open Ever

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MELBOURNE, Australia — A funny thing happened at the end of plenty of matches at the Australian Open this year: Players gathered their used water bottles and their sweat-soaked towels and put them in garbage and laundry bags rather than leaving them for someone else to clean up and, in the process, come into contact with their germs.

Cleanliness has truly been a virtue at this tournament. Workers scour the grounds looking for recently vacated tables to scrub. The moderator of news conferences cleans the dais with a disinfecting wipe as soon as a player leaves it. Bathrooms are seemingly in a constant state of scrubbing.

Studies have shown that the coronavirus does not easily spread from unclean surfaces. People have to breathe in the tiny virus particles. But a clean tournament helps make all the people who come to Melbourne Park feel that they are in a healthful atmosphere. Perhaps cleaner sporting events will be a legacy of Covid-19 that stays with us, but it does not come easy. It takes work.

ImageCleaners working in Rod Laver Arena between sessions of the Australian Open.
Cleaners working in Rod Laver Arena between sessions of the Australian Open.Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
Thousands of spectators visited Melbourne Park during the tournament. Australia, with its strict protocols, has averaged just a handful of coronavirus cases per day since October.Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
Sanitation efforts began at the front gates with workers like Subhash Thapa wiping down areas throughout the day.Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
In a moment of team bonding, court services workers broke into a dance at the start of their shift.Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
The tournament employed 1,200 cleaners who scoured high-contact surfaces at Melbourne Park. Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
Working in pairs, cleaners disinfected surfaces including tables, handrails, chairs and water fountains.Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
Fans at Melbourne Park had access to 800 hand-sanitizing stations, kept full by a team of workers. Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
The hand sanitizers could be seen throughout the park and at communal places like a phone charging station.Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
Sama Bajracharya, 29, on a break from working as a cleaner at Melbourne Park. Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
A corporate suite at Rod Laver Arena was cleaned before the women’s singles final. Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
Attendance was limited in an effort to keep fans and players safe. Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
Many of the hygiene workers were from Latin America and Nepal and in Melbourne on student visas. Andres Diaz and Yesica Gutierrez carried disinfectant bottles at all times.Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
The court services team used ultraviolet disinfecting guns to sanitize player areas before the start of play.Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times
All of the efforts of the sanitation team were meant to create an environment that felt clean and healthful.Credit...Alana Holmberg for The New York Times

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