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The Australian Open tournament has entered the metaverse via the Decentraland platform to offer fans more access and possibilities.
The Australian Open (AO) is now the first official tennis grand slam in the metaverse, following a partnership between Tennis Australia and Decentraland. This development entails a virtual recreation of key areas in Melbourne Park. These areas include the Rod Laver Arena and Grand Slam Park. Users will be able to access these digital replicas on Decentraland, a leading open-source metaverse platform. Furthermore, the virtual Australian Open initiative will last the entirety of the real-life tournament’s two-week span, starting January 17th.
The Australian Open and Metaverse and NFT project manager Ridley Plummer discussed the project’s origin. In a media session, Plummer explained Tennis Australia wants to bring in more innovation. As he put it:
“I think we’re a sporting organisation and for the most part of the year, we’re used to seeing people playing tennis on courts… as we tried to expand what we do as a business, the natural progression of that is to get into gaming and to get into more offline stuff in a second screen. So, when we were discussing six to eight months ago, what the next step is, naturally, the metaverse was the first thing that came up and NFTs as well. So, we sort of jumped headfirst into this space three or four months ago.”
Australian Open Implies Future Sustained Metaverse Endeavors for Fans
Part of what makes accessing the Australian Open on Decentraland so appealing is the dynamic viewing experience afforded to fans. Plummer explained that the metaverse version of the yearly-opening grand slam tournament provided multiple camera angles not available on TV. He also teased that visitors will get a reverse feed of the on-court action akin to the “Matrix Effect”. The added bonus is that the AO metaverse will help win over some crypto and NFT buffs to tennis.
Plummer hopes that the Australian Open would become a mecca for sports and entertainment. Furthermore, he added that by entering the metaverse, AO would provide global access to its offerings. Plummer said this in reference to the unique challenges stemming from the Novak Djokovic visa saga that have plagued the tournament. In addition, visa issues from Covid border restrictions also spilled over to affect broader tennis fans looking to enter Melbourne.
Plummer suggested that Tennis Australia will not only focus on the AO during the actual tournament. Rather, the team is exploring the possibility of a more sustained year-round initiative. In his own words:
“We definitely think of ourselves more as an entertainment event rather than just a tennis event. Whether we’re providing entertainment via the metaverse twelve months of the year or only a few months of the year, that’s definitely a decision to be made in our roadmap going forward.”
The AO also recently announced a new team-up with NFT platform Sweet to launch six NFT collections. According to reports, these digital assets will commemorate the last fifty years of the Australian Open.