Tennis Australia has partnered with Decentraland to host the Australian Open (AO), which will be Metaverse’s first major official tennis tournament.
Virtual entertainment in key areas of Melbourne Park, including Rod Laver Arena and Grand Slam Park, will be open throughout the Australian Open, which runs for two weeks from Monday.
The event will feature exclusive content for virtual contestants, including behind-the-scenes footage from over 300 cameras in Melbourne Park, including an exclusive player access area and training village.
In addition to live broadcasts and Radio AO, it will also include archive footage of tennis matches dating back to the 1970s and virtual meetings of tennis players including Marc Philippoussis with other players yet to be confirmed.
Tennis Australia NFT and Metaverse project manager Ridley Plummer said in a virtual welcome speech at Decentraland that he hopes AO will be “the world’s most comprehensive sporting and entertainment event.”
“Given the unique challenges fans faced in coming to Melbourne, we quickly tracked our launch to Metaverse,” he said.
“The introduction of AO in Metaverse is an important step in providing truly global access to our major event.”
This is especially important given the travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes it very difficult for many fans to come to Melbourne to see the action in real life. AO 2021 has faced many challenges, including historically low viewership and restrictions on closure.
While the partnership was proposed in time given the pandemic, Plummer says that AO plans to continue working with Decentraland in the future. “We are in this for the long term,” he said.
“Metaverse is not going anywhere, and as a company we are investing to further expand our online presence and push the boundaries of innovation.”
He also added that Tennis Australia is looking at ownership of Metaverse all year.
“We definitely see ourselves as an entertainment event, not just a tennis event. Whether we offer entertainment for twelve months of the year or just a few months of the year, this is definitely a decision to make on the roadmap for the future.”
The Australian Open gets a good collaboration with NFT
Meanwhile, on January 17, AO also announced that it will partner with the NFT platform Sweet to release six sets of NFTs to celebrate AO’s fiftieth anniversary.
Kits will be released periodically between January 17 and 27 to coincide with the tournament.
Tom Mason, Sweet’s CEO, said the NFT release demonstrates a “really new level of access” for fans to catch a glimpse into the world of idols.
“We love the idea of turning intellectual property into digital memories and linking those memories to experiences,” he added.
“The idea that AO has designed the referee’s chair like never before, and now tennis fans can own and display it as an NFT, is fantastic.”
Separately, AO released a batch of 6776 algorithm-generated NFT “Art Ball” games on Opensea on 12 January.
According to Plummer, the pool was sold out within three minutes of the total fall with a low price of 0.26 ETH (around $ 875) and a trading volume of 223 ETH ($ 751,287).